Works of fantasy frequently contain a powerful evil spiritual being who's behind most or all of the evil in the world, a Satan-figure or chief God of Evil. This Devil is a very real being with followers, worshippers and real power, who takes an active hand in making trouble for the world. But in an odd twist, a lot of stories leave out the Devil's good counterpart; either there is no benevolent God, or he's only talked about and never actually does anything. This is particularly egregious if the series makes a big deal of the Balance Between Good and Evil.
It's worth noting that the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) tend to forbid visual depictions of God (the argument being that it's impossible for a human to accurately depict an all-powerful, incomprehensible being beyond all space-time, and they probably have a point), so this trope may exist out of respect to such traditions.
C. S. Lewis wrote a novella called The Screwtape Letters, detailing the correspondence between a mortal human's literal "personal demon" and that demon's supervisor. In a commentary about the story, Professor Lewis wrote that he wanted to include similar letters between the demon's opposite number, but claimed that it was far too difficult to get into an angel's mindset to do so. The existence of this trope may well be partially explained by similar limits experienced by other authors.
Another alternate explanation is that in most cases He knows the heroesdon't actually need His help, so He doesn't give it. Another reason is that God might easily become the ultimate Invincible Hero or Deus ex Machina (in fact, the very name Deus ex Machina came from the habit of Greek and Roman plays to have one of the gods come down from the heavens to fix up the mess the others had created), so the writers need to get rid of him. Possibly justified if people are significantly harder to make bad than good.
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Berserk, which has the "God Hand", a group of five powerful demons as the closest thing to gods. The only other set of deities, the Four Elemental Kings, are said to be loving and protective of humanity, but only seen to help out if consciously summoned.
The Idea of Evil, who the Godhand answer to, seems to be the closest thing to a God in the Berserk universe, but it's only (so far) been seen in a semi-canon chapter that was cut for spoilering the plot. However, it's both GodAND the devil.
That's the anime version. In the manga, the demons are actually aliens, and Aion is fully aware of this (and subsequently believes that God and religion are just another cog in an "oppressive system") and the Apostles are stated to be "chosen by the Astraline", while God...well, not mentioned much. Either he's carefully manipulating things in the background, or just simply doesn't exist.
In Death Note, the only supernatural beings are the mostly malevolent Shinigami, and their world is a rather hellish place.
Although, the Shinigami are not truly malevolent, they're just doing what they're supposed to. In a sense, they as a whole, are sort of a cosmic life/death bureaucracy.
Yeah; or more like we just happen to be their natural prey, although the notebooks seem contrived, and their fall into ennui is just a thing that happened.
Possibly once upon a time they didn't have them, and had to buzz around getting humans to trade life for "eyes and wings and things," as Light puts it, or at least had some less sophisticated life-capture system, before the Shinigami King invented and distributed these marvelous new tools. Whereupon there was no purpose or tension in life and they slowly rotted into what they are today, rather like Light did after he offed his great adversary. Meaning the Death Notes corrupted them just as badly as they do humans, and not through any supernatural agency but by sloth and pride. It would fit the universe really well.
In Black Butler we have lawful evil devils, shinigamis are either lawful neutral or chaotic evil but there is no benevolent supernatural being. In the anime version the Big Bad is a fallen angel, which implies there is good angels, but they never show up and a devil saves the day.
Actually, also in the Anime, William T. Spears mentions God briefly in episode 18. That's still only the Anime, though.
Fullmetal Alchemist has a lot of talk about God, from Lior's Leto to the faces of Ishbala to King Bradley, Edward Elric, and Maes Hughes' very different atheisms to Father's affectations to...The Truth. But the first two gods are silent, Father is a monster, and the Truth—which claims, among other things, the title God, and which Father seems to be referring to when he wants to kill God—is a dick that makes 'equivalent exchange' as painful, meaningless, and ironic as possible and sniggers about it, and otherwise has no apparent interactions with humanity. Where in such a world is there God?
Hughes: So what will bring wrath down upon us is not God, but probably 'humans.'
This line refers mostly to Scar, but it's given in a floating speech bubble above Bradley who is framed against the sunset. Ironically, since he eventually turns out to be Wrath, who "has [his] own pride as a homunculus."
The voice of God has been heard in certain DC comics, usually talking to The Spectre, who works as its Agent of Vengeance. However it has never been actually seen, and only seems to interfere in VERY rare occasions, even when the The DCU is threatened with destruction.
A JLA miniseries starring Zauriel the Angel climaxed with the rogue angel Asmodel storming the palace of God only to find it empty. Zauriel lectures Asmodel on the naivete of expecting God to be some mere corporeal form: God is everywhere and swiftly sends Asmodel to Hell.
By contrast to this, various devils often show up in the DC Universe, most notably Neuron, whose shtick is making Deal With The Devil type bargains with unwitting mortals. Demons seem to pop up far more often in the series then their heavenly counterparts, even though some (like Etrigan) aren't all bad. Lucifer even had his own ongoing title under the Vertigo imprint.
In Marvel Comics, Satan was a recurring character in the Son of Satan series. God, Jesus or the Angels never appeared or interfered. Later, it was RetConned that Satan was being impersonated by demons such as Mephisto, and that the true Devil had NEVER appeared in a Marvel story note It has since been revealed that there are several Netherrealms claiming to be Hell, and that its rulers inspired legends of the Devil rather than directly being him, and the only souls they lay claim to are those who made bargains with them.. In Ghost Rider, angels and Heaven have shown up.
Well, Blaze had a guy helping him against Satan who was at some points implied to be JC. (Religious figure, not Deus Ex protagonist.)
A good Marvel comics example is when an old flame allows Bruce Banner to see all his inner personalities (each a different Hulk), one of whom takes the form of a monstrous reptilian devil. Devil Hulk tells Bruce "There's a little bit of God and the Devil in everyone", but the comics have yet to get around to that God part. We do get to see that an incarnation of the Beast lives in Bruce's head as well.
It's pretty clear that Bruce himself is the God part.
Depends on the writer. Sometimes Bruce is shown to be petty and violent (not often but sometimes) and Green Hulk, while lacking control, is shown to be more caring (best example is in the Planet Hulk What If, where Hulk lands on the Illuminati's target planet).
Another Hulk story offers an aversion: When Old Greenskin (who at the time had Bruce Banner's intellect) acted as best man at Rick Jones' wedding, and Mephisto crashed the party, claiming to have a lien on the bride's soul. He offered the Hulk a deal: His soul for hers. Banner thought it over, looked up at the sky, and sucker-punched the demon so completely that he flew right through the fire-circle wards he'd set up to keep the other superbeings in attendence from interfering. Sputtering, Mephisto screamed that what the Hulk had done was impossible (No mortal, however powerful, should be able to land a blow on a conceptual being without permission). Banner replied, (not an exact quote): "Weren't you listening to what the preacher said? We are gathered here in the sight of God! What, did you, of all beings, think that those were just words?"
Double subversion in this case : while Mephisto leaves the wedding seemingly defeated, his thoughts reveal that he took the beating on purpose to increase the Hulk's hubris. A few issues later, the Hulk's organisation, the Pantheon, went down in flames and Banner suffered a pretty bad nervous breakdown, ruining all of his work with Doc Samson.
Has thus far been the case in Hellboy, where demons seem quite active while God remains unseen. Mignola has commented on the absence of God/Heaven in the series is because revealing too much about the divine order of the universe sort of takes away the mystery in a series. He has promised we'll see glimpses of Heaven and people who have gotten close to it, but that we would see a great deal more of Hell and its inner workings.
The character King Peacock in Alan Moore 's Top 10, at one point, is described as being a devil worshipper, as he is a member of the Yazidi sect. He describes it as God creating the universe and then taking off, leaving Melek Taus (the devil) in charge. Both God and Melek Taus are benevolent according to the Yazidi, though.
Bone sort of seems to have The Lord of the Locusts as an example of the trope because he is a formless being who appears to have a lot of powers and influence on the real world, and he actuallykilledthe closest thing they had to a God. Sort of. Rose implies that the God figure was responsible for her own death, not the Satan figure. Either way, she's dead for the majority of the story.
It is also briefly implied that the two beings are actually two aspects of the same being, who is both creator and destroyer, good and evil.
Even present in Ghostbusters and its related media; while there's plenty of evil gods and lesser deities (like Gozer) running around, there's no indication of any good gods opposing them, so the Busters have to make do with science.
Well, Marduk appeared in one episode of the cartoon, and was a depicted as a fairly benevolent "god of the city". He still needed the Ghostbusters' help to defeat his ancient enemy Tiamat, though.
Also, in the original film there are hints by some characters that Gozer is the harbinger of the Biblical Apocalypse, and not just its own brand of doom.
In Hellborn: Asylum of the Damned, there is a Devil that plays an active part in damning the lives and souls of human beings, even the good ones. However, as stated by one of the characters in the film itself, "God dosen't take a look around here."
While the book of The Lord of the Rings averts this trope (see below), this is the impression of someone who only watched the movies and never read any of the book or backstory. It's possible to watch the movies without ever learning that Gandalf is a maia (or even what a maia is), or the existence of the Valar or Eru, or know about the downfall or Númenor. Somethingsubtly influences everyone's fate and sends Gandalf back from the dead, but it is sufficiently abstract and distant when compared to Sauron as to qualify for this trope.
Then again, Sauron is a being who has somehow seized control of armies of orcs and a mighty wizard before even getting an eye. By the end of the movie the most he has is a symbolic mouth, and that's only in the extended edition.
However, Sauron isn't the Devil either. He's just Morgoth' most trusted lieutenant.
In other words, he's a devil but not the devil (or you could say he's the de facto devil, since the genuine article's currently a Sealed Evil in a Can).
A MST3K blogger pointed this out in his review of the MST3K film The Touch of Satan.
The Exorcist film series. The power of God/Christ does seem to be more powerful than the power of the Devil but God seems absent for the most part.
In Fallen, there is a demon essentially free to take over people's bodies and use them to commit murder. Apparently, the forces of Heaven are not concerned enough to show up and do something about it.
Defied at the end of Devil. The Devil occasionally comes to Earth and and torments people, and there is no divine intervention. However, one character manages a Redemption Earns Life, and the narrator comments that if the Devil exists, God must exist too.
Most horror/slasher films, the Big Bad has Joker Immunity, with little or no intervention from the Big Good, or any Good for that matter, apparently to rid anyone of a heavenly Hope Spot. For the sake of the franchise, even if killed, they are just one sequel away from being Back from the Dead. Notably, Freddy, Jason, Mike Myers, Drag Me to Hell, Hostel...the list goes on.
Drag Me to Hell involves a horrendous curse where unless it's broken, the victim will be dragged to Hell by a demon after three days of torment. Yet though demons and Hell are frequently mentioned throughout the movie, neither God or Heaven are and the name of God isn't even invoked during the failed exorcism sequence towards the end of the movie.
Redwall, the indirect picture provider, has several bad guys mention "Hellgates", and one of them drops the name of Vulpuz, some sort of evil deity. The good guys have an afterlife called Dark Forest, and earlier in the series at least the appearance of having actual religion, although it is never discussed. (This is pretty odd for a series whose title location is an abbey, populated by what was clearly, in the beginning, a monastic order. The not-quite-religion fades as the series continues.)
There is also the fact that in the original "Redwall" book, the giant adder is named Asmodeus, which one in-universe character identifies as "the name of the devil himself". In real world mythology, Asmodeus is depicted as various kinds of demon king, depending on which version one reads, but is certainly a very high ranking lord of Hell. The same book also has Cluny casually killing someone and saying "Tell the devil Cluny sent you".
In The Wheel of Time, the Dark One has hordes of evil creatures, Darkfriend spies infiltrating every level of society, and the Forsaken, and has been trying to destroy all of creation since the beginning of time. The Creator never makes any sort of appearance except possibly as a mysterious voice in the first and last books); in a late book, Rand gives a mini-rant about how the Creator created their world and then went on to create countless more without care of whether individual worlds died out, though this is implied to have been influenced by his psychic link to Moridin. In His place are a variety of automatic error-correcting routines built into the Pattern, like creating/reincarnating ta'veren.
It also smells of of Retcon, as Terry Goodkind abandoned the whole idea after two books. The final verdict seems to be that both the Creator and the Keeper of the Underworld are essentially mindless, but very real, aspects of nature (representing life and death, respectively), and people who treat either as a deity are doing something silly.
Subverted in The Dragonlance Chronicles. As Queen Takhisis's armies of darkness cover the land, conquering all before them, it seems as though Paladine, the god of good, is nowhere to be found, until it's revealed in the third book that he's been traveling with the heroes on and off since about halfway through the first book, under the name of Fizban, helping to guide events to the point where Takhisis can be defeated.
While its finally outright stated in the last book, it was rather heavily hinted at since shortly after his first appearance.
Also, when the Heroes notice early in the story that the constellations representing the Queen of Darkness and the Valiant Warrior have vanished from the sky, Raistlin interprets this to mean that "The Dark Queen is here, on Krynn! And the Valiant Warrior has returned as well to fight her." So from the beginning, the heroes have some reason to hope that they are not alone.
The Runelords falls victim to this one as well. The heroes eventually learn that their ultimate opponent isn't Raj Ahten, the Darkling Glory that was summoned by Raj Ahten's flameweavers, or even the Reaver queen, but the One True Master of Evil, queen of the Loci. She's actually introduced as a character in the second series, and we begin to see why she's worthy of the title. Glories and Bright Ones are talked about, but scarcely ever actually seen on-stage, and there's no indication as of yet that they have a leader or that there's any good-guy counterpart to Shadoath, the One True Master.
Fallion is implied to be the reincarnation of Shadoath's good-guy counterpart: as the Torchbearer, he has the power to undo her breaking of the True World. Given Shadoath's Start of Darkness (when she, being more grasping and power-hungry than truly evil, broke the Runes that held the True World together, the other Bright Ones magically wrote their sorrows on her until it broke her completely, hollowing out everything happy and positive in her), and the stated nature of the True World, the Bright Ones are less God/Satan than heroic-scale exaggerations of human nature like you might see in ancient mythology. Because Shadoath is a Bright One and Fallion isn't (yet), her corrupt deeds are frequently much greater in scope and consequence than Fallion's heroic deeds.
While the Creator exists, is good, and wants to help in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, he exists outside of the universe of the Land and cannot interfere directly without causing the end of the world. Lord Foul, on the other hand is trapped inside the same universe which is not a good thing for anyone sharing the place with him.
Notably, the Elder Gods were an addition by August Derleth, who was an avid admirer of Lovecraft, as well as a devout Christian, and couldn't, or didn't want to understand Lovecraft's intentions to depict the universe as a hostile and uncaring place where humanity has absolutely no special position, and instead made Earth the central battleground for cosmic incarnations of good and evil. Latter contributors to the Mythos often kept the Elder Gods, but made them less "good" than "uncaring but opposed to more dangerous things".
Also, while Nyarlathotep gets continuously interpreted as the Devil by various humans, the implications that aren't dependent on the Unreliable Narrator seem to portray him as a Shiva-like destructive, but impartial deity.
Athough he does often appear to enjoy himself immensely when seen in in human form...
That's something of a case of Flanderization by later writers. In Lovecraft's own stories he has two appearances in human form, and one in near-human. In first of those he isn't yet really a deity, but simply a human scientist who has become essentially an Anthropomorphic Personification of the immutable cosmic laws (it's a Mind Screw), and is simply driven rather than malevolent or cruel, as far as the reader can tell. He receives human sacrifices in person as the Black Man, but he never speaks in that story and gives no impression of sadism for its own sake - it's just a function that he is performing. His depiction as a creatively cruel monster trickster is mostly based on his appearance in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, where he once again is performing a role as the protector of the Great Ones - though while clearly holding them in contempt. But even as he torments Carter with false hope, he seems to deem him a Worthy Opponent, facing him directly instead of just letting his masters squash him like a bug, as had happened to everyone else who tried to see Earth's gods.
While the Otherness in F. Paul Wilson's Adversary novels is a reasonable stand-in for the Devil (with a side order of Lovecraftian abomination), the opposing force that works against the Otherness is fundamentally indifferent to human welfare, and is definitely not God.
Narnia is arguably an inversion. Aslan is a big character, but every villain until the end of the last book is mortal. Tash might be Satan but he is not depicted as The Man Behind the Man.
Aslan is Jesus aka God the Son, and the Emperor Beyond The Sea is God the Father. Only the Son is meant to have the properties that would actually make Him depictable.
Another example from Lewis would be Perelandra: Satan (or one of his Rouge Angles) acts directly through his possessed tool the Un-man while the forces of good are represented only by the protagonist, Ransom. In the story, Ransom wishes several times that he could have help from the forces of Good. Somewhat subverted in that Ransom gets the equivalent of a pep-talk from God and realizes that he himself is that help before challenging the Un-man to a duel to the death.
The Paradis books justify this—God lost to Satan, who turned everything into a Crapsack World and sends all the dead to Hell. Yes, this is a rather dark series, why did you ask?
In another series from Tanith Lee, Tales from the Flat Earth, who seems to love Crapsack World tropes in general, this trope turns up frequently. While the series definitely has Gods, they're Neglectful Precursors 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. Actually, the entire series is made of this trope, since 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 Blueand Orange Morality, 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 in an interesting subversion of the trope.
K. J. Parker's The Scavenger Trilogy is set in a world where the god Poldarn may be very real and active. Poldarn is the very spirit of death, failure, destruction and folly. When Poldarn creates, you won't like what he makes. There is no sign of a more hopeful god.
Averted in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion (or possibly subverted). While Morgoth (and later Sauron) are generally the most powerful forces directly affecting Middle-Earth at a given time, God does exist and will act directly if pushed far enough (see "The Downfall of Númenor"). Gandalf also implies that He is subtly influencing world events all the time.
Gandalf: Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and you also were meant to have it—and that is an encouraging thought.
Gandalf also says in the book, as explanation for Bilbo's astonishing Contrived Coincidence in happening to come across the ring in the way that he did: "There was more than one power at work. I can put it no more plainly than that Bilbo was meant to find that ring, and not by its maker."
Gandalf himself is proof of the creator, since he's more or less an Angel. And God gives him a new, stronger body when the Balrog kills the one he's wearing at the moment.
Possibly true in The Saga of the Noble Dead. So far, the only active divinities are il'Samar, which is evil, and the Fay, which are amoral, but the most recent book has introduced a group of dwarven priests who are good and have magical powers no one else does, clearly drawn from something. As the series goes on, presumably this will be elaborated on further.
Subverted in Mistborn. Ruin is the only actual deity acting in the setting (and actually refers to himself as God on occasion) and it gradually becomes apparent that Ruin's counterpart, Preservation, is dead. Then it turns out that Preservation's plan was still playing out, and at the climax the heroine is elevated to take His place.
The Stormlight Archive has several shards (i.e. specialized gods) involved at some point, but by the end of the first book, it is quite clear that the one most definitely invested in saving Roshar from destruction is dead, while the most definitely evil shard who killed him is apparently returning to finish the job. Or something; it's hard to say. Still, Ouch.
The Fall of Chronopolis by Barrington J. Bayley. The adversary Hulmu is real and threatening, but the religion of the nameless The Church, insofar as it makes any sense, seems to be a weird version of pantheism.
This is a Corrupt Church with a purpose. The preservation of the entire space-time continuum is a pretty rock bottom obligation, and the demons and devil worshippers it was designed to fight are real.
In another twist, the Christian temporal refugees fighting the Chronotic Empire make an actual Deal with the Devil .... although they don't see it that way.
In Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane novels the protagonist is a Christian Puritan who comes across various kinds of supernatural phenomena in his travels, both good and evil, but never anything that would confirm the existence of his God, and this causes him a great deal of internal turmoil. The recent movie adaptation however has its plot revolve entirely around a conflict between Heaven and Hell by earthly proxies.
The Felix Castor novels have several demons lurking on the periphery ever since the recent return of the restless dead, but there's no mention made of angels or God's representatives. Exorcists are nondenominational (and sometimes atheists), and the local Church Militant branch relies mostly on their own exorcists and bunches of loup-garous. The vast amount of demons may make more sense with the revelation that human souls can metamorphosize into demons, and that this is likely how the succubus Juliet began her infernal existence.
In Fred Saberhagen's Empire Of The East trilogy, The Empire has hordes of demons at its command, but Ardneh was not at that point powerful enough to face any but the weakest of them in direct combat. When Chup calls out to the "Powers of the West" to help him against the demon Zapranoth, all Ardneh can give him is guidance, not any actual power. Once Ardneh got the hydromagnetic core of the fusion power lamp, all bets were off.
In Saberhagen's Books Of Swords, set in the same world but centuries later, the situation is a little different. The gods we see the most of, Vulcan and Mars, are pretty malevolent, and none of the gods seems outright good, but, as Dame Yoldi points out, the creators of Townsaver cannot be all bad. The Emperor is genuinely good.
Throughout the first three seasons Demons and other forces of evil were running rampant across the world without any opposing force of good to stop them aside from human Hunters. The Devil gets a mention, but as a religious deity which the Demons believe in, not as an actual character. There are also a number of Pagan gods and demigods, but they all seem to be either evil or purely self-interested.
In terms of the Demons' good counterparts, in season 4 the writers decided to take a different direction and Angels first appear, despite Dean's disbelief. They are technically on the side of good, but vary in how much they care about helping people versus pursing their own goals and interests. There are plenty of good angels, but they are bound by a strict hierarchy where disobedience is the highest crime. In 4.02 it's explained that the Devil/Lucifer the Archangel will once again roam the earth unless the Apocalypse can be averted. His backstory is also fleshed out: After he was expelled from Heaven for refusing to bow down to man, he created the first demon and is responsible for most of the larger storyline across all 5 seasons. In the season 4 finale, the 66 seals keeping Lucifer trapped are broken, and he returns to Earth as the season 5 Big Bad.
As for God himself, he has only ever been seen by four Archangels. In the season 4 finale, Zachariah claimed God had 'left the building', and that the angels were giving the orders. In season 5 however God has been implied to have intervened in the storyline, transporting Sam and Dean out of harms way and bringing the angel Castiel back to life. Subsequent attempts to find him reveal that he is completely apathetic about the war between Heaven and Hell. Either that or while he does want Sam and Dean to win, he needs to be subtle in his methods to allow free will to continue. Then in the season 5 finale it's very strongly implied that Chuck is God. Admittedly, all he does is dress in an uncharacteristically smart white suit as opposed to his usual scruffy state, act in a much more calm and knowing manner, and then vanish into thin air, but since all angels and demons thus far had thought he was just a prophet and otherwise ordinary human, there aren't many alternatives. After all, angels and demons can detect each other. Plus, with his monologue/narration...he's God.
Word Of God is that there originally weren't going to be angels and an Abrahamic God on Supernatural at all, and that the decision to introduce them in season 4 was made after the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike wrecked the planned ending to season 3 and forced the creators to find a new way to get Dean out of his Deal with the Devil. Whether Lucifer was also a result of this change or was intended to be the Big Bad from the start is unclear (his existence was alluded to prior to the episodes affected by the strike, but only in extremely vague terms that could have just been intended as World Building before being welded into the main storyline).
In Charmed, the Devil ("the Source", short for "Source of All Evil") appears in several successive versions, but the show is maddeningly vague about who or what is in charge of "up there". The "White lighters" answer to "the Elders", but who do THEY answer to? Blank-out.
The Elders seem to be the highest authority for the side of good, considering they were the ones who released the power of the Gods onto the mortals. Even so, they never actually do anything, except make things even more difficult for the main characters.
The status of God in the Buffy Verse is very suspect. The series has "The Powers That Be", supposedly forces that fight for good, but the show is vague on what exactly they are. They also seem to do little to help the heroes, sending visions that let them know when people are in trouble and have been implied to have directly helped them a few times, but they're often nowhere to be seen when the shit really hits the fan, and the few beings said to work for them are often uninterested and unsympathetic to the heroes' plights. On the evil side, the series has the Senior Partners, ascended demons who work through the interdimensional law firm Wolfram & Hart, who are shown to be VERY active in spreading evil and contributing to humanity's eventual downfall. The show's background has the Earth previously ruled by demonic gods millenia ago and Buffy's last season saw the heroes fighting the personification of evil, neither of which seem to have a good equivalent. In addition, at one point in the series a vampire in the series asks Buffy if God exists, and she responds "Nothing solid".
This is all countered to an extent by the fact that Buffy was resurrected from a place of perfection and peace, that she is pretty sure was heaven. But whether the existence of an afterlife implies the existence of a god is another debate.
Also, for all the demons in the series, there's not one angel. At least until they start showing up in the Angel comics post-After The Fall, and most of them turn out to be Lawful Stupid.
Though not all the demons are bad - there was Whistler, who, though referred to as a demon, was 'sent down' from somewhere, and is definitely a force for good. He was actually a hybrid, equal parts demon and Power That Be, and some of his later acts are starting to put him into villain territory. Skip, Cordelia's demon guide, worked for the Powers before allying himself with Jasmine.
Still, the current evidence suggests that the most powerful terrestrial force for good in the Buffyverse is the Slayer. This is almost certainly true after the events of the Buffy finale.
It's worth noticing that at least some Graeco-Roman and Egyptian deities exist in some form in the Buffyverse, with appeal to Hecate, Janus and Osiris resulting in, variously, transformation into a rat, everybody transforming into their costumes, and resurrection. These may just be sufficiently advanced demons. Glory is also referred to as a God, though one of the evil ones.
Crosses are symbolic of crucifixion and holy water is holy because it has been blessed by a priest; neither are magic or supernatural in and of themselves, yet they are harmful to vampires. This doesn't prove the existence of God, but there has to be some kind of unquantifiable force that imbues these objects with their powers.
The Big Bad of Lexx's final two seasons is the immortal sadist Prince of Fire, who claims to have existed since the beginning of time, rules a planet where evil souls are reincarnated, tortured and reincarnated again in a never ending cycle and has limited control over whose souls appear where. While the planet Fire does have a heavenly counterpart called Water, Water has no counterpart to Prince. By season 4, Fire and Water are gone, but Prince has reincarnated on Earth, where once again there are no real forces of good to stand in his way.
PossiblyReaper. The Devil is a main character and several demons have appeared, but neither God nor explicit angels have.
Well, the demons are all fallen angels, one demon managed to get his old gig back, and God was mentioned as the ultimate winner by the Devil in the first episode. Still, a good deal less good than evil.
In the Season 2 finale of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah Connor mentions that she doesn't know if there's a God or not, but she knows there is an evil omnipresent entity that wants the world to burn (referring to SKYNET). The episode also reveals that much of the show's Myth Arc involves an attempt to build a machine "God" to oppose SKYNET.
With all the false gods in Stargate SG-1, there is no Sufficiently Advanced Alien masquerading as the God of Abrahamic religions — whereas the Goa'uld Sokar is said to have been the inspiration for the Devil in various cultures.
The ascended beings are sorta stand-ins for angelic beings: clad in white, all-knowing and infuriatingly self-satisfied. Occasionally one of them will get around their own Obstructive Code of Conduct to pull off a genuine miracle, like when Oma Desala fights Anubis to a standstill, or when Morgan La Fey heals Teal'c and kicks Adria's butt in The Ark of Truth.
The series Lampshades this at one point, with Teal'c commenting that he can't imagine a Goa'uld capable of the benevolence shown by Jesus Christ.
Babylon 5: The Shadows are almost a Shout Out to the devil, but they don't really have a good counterpart.
The Vorlons are the good equivalent as Kosh appears as the epitome of each race's archangel when he left his suit at that one time. The thing is Vorlons and Shadows try to play the Good/Evil axis, but are really templers of the Order/Chaos axis.
In Season Four, it's revealed that the Vorlons aren't the good guys, they're almost as bad as the Shadows, and they only appear to be angels because they genetically and telepathically manipulated the younger races. When their true form is finally revealed, they're clearly Starfish Aliens. Even Lorien, the oldest and most powerful being in the galaxy, refers to the universe itself as the creator of life.
On LOST both Jacob and MIB have been said to be the Devil, but neither has been said to be a god.
Though Jacob is described by Mark Pellegrino as a Jesus analog.
In Ashes to Ashes, the forces of evil are alive and well, and walking around in the form of Jim Keats, but even though Gene is the force behind Purgatory, he is never identified as "good", just the target of Keats's vengeance.
There is a God. He just doesn't intervene much cos he's too busy being a barman.
In the Power Rangers Universe, there seem to be an awful lot of monstrous evil elder beings that exist to cause pain and destruction. But the heroic elder beings tend to be light on the ground. This doesn't seem to worry the Rangers most years, who usually save the day without needing divine intervention, but during season 10, the Rangers would have died on multiple occasions had a god (Animus, the diety of the wild zords) not directly intervened to save them.
Mortasheen, as it usually does, does this in a weird way. There are no gods (unless you count The Ultimates), mainly because the creator, who said it himself is an "agnostic science nut". However, there are the equivalents to demons The Devilbirds, birds charged in the egg with negative psychic energy to cause and feed off of negative emotions. But, there are no angel equivalents. There wereonce when Mortasheen was still called Necromon, but the creator couldn't come up with any re-designs for them that he liked, so he scrapped them.
It has been hinted that the Eldar are slowly bringing about the birth of a new god which may be able to destroy Chaos (although it has been suggested that the birth of this god would require the death of every last Eldar). As for humanity, every positive emotion which could lead to the creation of a benevolent Warp entity is focused squarely on the Emperor, whose dying physical body is hooked up to an enormous life support machine. It's implied that if the Emperor were ever allowed to die, he would ascend to true godhood and be able to fight Chaos directly. Unfortunately, the loss of the Emperor from the physical world would be an unsustainable disaster for the Imperium: his psychic strength controls the Astronomican, a massive navigational beacon made of psychic energy, without which Warp travel would be practically impossible.
Tharizdun may be the most utterly evil of Greyhawk's god, but he is far from the strongest- in the first three editions of the game, he was ranked as an intermediate deity, and his imprisonment barred him from affecting the world more than a weak demigod.
In Gary Gygax's Gord novels, Tharizdun once freed is a nigh-omnipotent being who can easily force all the demon princes, archfiends, and other rulers of the Lower Planes to serve him.
The most powerful of the evil gods, Nerull the Reaper, does have a good counterpart in Pelor the Sun God. Also, the demons of the Abyss (Demogorgon, Orcus, etc...) are directly opposed by some guardinal dukes from Elysium.
Early in the company's history, TSR did publish statistics for God, Jesus and Archangels, but later removed them from publication after heavy criticism. They have tons of other gods though, both evil and good.
Most of the core D&D settings were actually extremely focused on the issue of balancing out the various alignments. Greyhawk, Dragonlance and the Forgotten Realms all played heavily around the idea of Good/Neutral/Evil deities and other-planar beings. However, it was Planescape that really took the cake, as it had the concept that real estate on the alignment-based Outer Planes could be moved around based on the nature of the residents. This served to explain why gods were often too busy to meddle more in affairs on the Prime Material Plane. It also explained cosmic conflicts like the Blood War, which was really all the fiends fighting each other to absorb each other's planes and thus create a single "Hell". More often than not, the powers of Good just egged them on because it kept the fiends occupied.
Interestingly enough, celestial "monsters" (such as Devas, Planetars and Solars) were often vastly more powerful than most of their fiendish counterparts (Demons, Daemons, Devils, etc.). A single Planetar or a Solar could flatten multiple Pit Fiends or Balors. However, they were also less numerous, so it was generally assumed to balance out.
Forgotten Realms seems to avert this by balancing extremely evil and powerful figures with equally powerful and good figures. Most any evil deity will have a good counter-part, as will most evil entities, such as aberrations, orcs, drow (Dark elves), and so on. The one all powerful being, Ao, is considered some form of neutral, or just above it all.
Inverted in Rifts. The SourcebookPantheons of the Megaverse gives advice on how a GM could portray an omniscient, omnipotent God. However, there's nothing in any of the books about the Devil, despite there being an entire dimension populated by evil creatures called Devils.
And you die. And if you don't die, you get nothing. Creation does not reward morality.
It may not be the truly moral thing to do, but I find it a bit harsh (and unrealistic) to castigate people as utter, unrepentant, through-and-through villains for not dying for convictions they may not even be particularly invested in and will not be rewarded for, in this life or any other.
Doom has this trope. It seems the only force of Good in the Doom-verse is our Berserker Packin' man-and-a-half, the Space Marine/Taggert, and his trusty shotgun (and chainsaw), taking on the forces of Hell. There's not even a holy weapon around, unless you count the Soul-Cube used by the Martians against the Hellions.
Grandia II's big twist is that Granas, the God of Light, was killed at the hands of Valmar, the Devil of Darkness.
And then subverted or possibly played double-straight when it's revealed that while Granas was alive, he ruled a totalitarian empire that forced all people to worship him constantly. The creators of the Devil entity were originally just your typical rebel alliance. Oh, and both gods are really just products of extremely (sufficiently) advanced technology.
This seems to be the case in the Devil May Cry series, featuring the Legions of Hell and their leader Mundus, but nothing supporting the existence of God. Simularily, angels have been mentioned in passing a few times, but the series has yet to explore their existence in depth.
Berial makes a subtle implication of God existing, when he talks about Sanctus and the Savior in disgust.
Berial: A human, posing as God? How ridiculous!
Most of the religion in the Devil May Cry series revolves around worshiping demons, with Dante's father being a good demon messiah. Also, there are demons that appear to be angels. It seems as if in this universe, that instead of demons being fallen angels - angels are demons who fell up.
In a speech near the end of 4, Nero makes an explicit reference to God, although it's anyone's guess if it's God God, or the Powers That Be.
The Castlevania series arguably falls into this. Dracula is described as the being opposite to God; God does not make an appearance. Demons are commonplace, but while several angels appear in the story, all have fallen to the side of evil. (Significantly, this includes the angel of death.) While several main characters are religious, all explanations of their abilities have been traced back, canonically or otherwise, to poltergeists, dhampirs or alchemy. Even then, the one visible sign of divine intervention in the series (Rosa's resurrection) may have been retconned! On the brighter side, the church has yet to be portrayed as corrupt.]]
The Order was separate from the Church of our Holy Lord.
God isn't directly brought up, but there are a lot of crosses everywhere. A crucifix, with a carving of Jesus included, makes an appearance as Richter's item crash when he's equipped with the cross/boomerang.
in several games, the Vampire Killer and several "light" weapons give off a distinctly cross-shaped flash of light upon impact with an enemy.
Justified in Aria of Sorrow, where most religious discussion is with the main character's Miko friend, who naturally discusses things in Shinto terms, not Christian.
If you look at the extended backstory brought on by FFXII, the Ivalice gods are monstrous jerks of the highest caliber (really, the Greek gods would be proud) and the assuming the Espers are the Lucavi and don't just have the same names, they actually come across as sympathetic. It's more a case of bad God, good Devil here. Also, Altima/Ultima is not a Lucavi - she's a head Angel who used to be under the Gods' direct service, but more or less told them to go to hell after realizing just how badly they treated the Lucavi and took up their cause.
Diablo and Diablo II. Deckard Cain mentions Hell is always bent on destruction (with Diablo as the Big Bad) but Heaven seems unfathomable (although there are angels).
The High Heavens and Burning Hells wage an eternal battle of good vs evil, and while there are no perfectly symmetrical counterparts to the Prime Evils, the Angiris Council is good enough. The forces of good (very strong ones, at that) are definitely present in the Diablo universe, they're just not shown that much because they prefer not to directly meddle in human affairs, Tyrael being the obvious exception.
The cosmology of the Diablo series is a combination of this trope and God and Satan Are Both Jerks. During the time period of the games, demons are much more active and influential on the world, but according to the storyline, neither of them care about humans and their world, except as a pawn or stepping stone in the war between Heaven and Hell. Angels at one point considered wiping out humanity themselves, and it was only Tyrael's intervention that prevented it.
Played with in Dragon Quest VII. The final battle between God and the Demon Lord ended with both MIA, but most of the world was still sealed away by evil, so that only a single island remains intact when the game begins. As you progress, the question of whether or not the Demon Lord won is repeatedly raised. Oh, sure, it looks like God planned for this by setting up a ritual to reawaken him... But when the ritual's performed, the 'God' who's summoned ain't the nicestguy around. Then post game where you do find the real God, it turns out he decided to let humanity sort out the Demon Lord and restore the sealed world themselves while he just watched. Even more telling is that When you call him on it he proves both stronger then the Demon Lord and able to drop in on the DL's throne room at will.
Prevalent in The Elder Scrolls series, with the supposed conflict between (the adherents of) The Nine Divines and the Daedra Lords. The Daedra Lords, while not universally evil (some are, in fact, quite decent people, and all tend to hold up their end of a bargain), tend to be amoral, unpredictable, sadistic and, on occasion, prone to attempting world conquest. They are universally reviled as 'evil', and their worshipers are considered misguided at best, and dangerous lunatics at worst. They are, however, very much present in the world. They speak directly to their worshipers, sometimes even appearing in a physical form, and are perfectly willing to offer immediate, tangible rewards for those that choose to do their work. The Nine, on the other hand, do very little, apart from their altars supposedly granting blessings and healing diseases, which any semi-competent spellcaster could pull that off. The main time the Divines intervene is during the Knights Of The Nine, when the prophet of the Nine gives you a new ability, which he says comes from the god Talos, and will allow you to kill the Big Bad of the game's arc in the dimension he goes to get a new body. After the battle, you die too, only to come back after a few days. The only explanation anyone can offer is that the divines brought you back. You are the only one to directly benefit from divine interventions in game, apart from a major intervention in a spoiler below.
This is mentioned by the Oblivion NPC Else God Hater, a Daedra Lord worshiper. "The gods don't do a damn 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. The gods? They don't do a damn thing. So why do we build big chapels and sit around and mumble, and ask them to save us from this and that? It's stupid. And chapels and priests and folks groveling on their knees, they're stupid, too."
The court mage in Oblivion's Cheydinhal castle asks if you worship the Nine Divines, asking rhetorically if they've ever helped or harmed the PC. She states that were the hero to worship a daedra lord, they would get results. Bad ones, but measurable results. She then states that she considers worshiping gods a waste of time, though the daedra cult of Azura are a nice, reasonable bunch.
While not in Oblivion, in Morrowind, you did in fact meet what is implied to be avatars of the Nine Divine (Stendarr & Mara in sidequests, Talos during the Main Quest), who reward the hero/heroine according to the action they take.
There are also Vivec, Sotha Sil, and Almalexia, the Tribunal, who are a trio of supposedly good Physical Gods. Then again, they're not natural gods, and two of them die.
In Oblivion you see the Avatar of Akatosh when he comes to defeat Mehrunes Dagon, but only after Martin sacrifices himself to call on its power.
Oblivion and Morrowind drop huge metaphysical bombshells on this subject. As it turns out the world as you know it is possibly Lorkhan's daedra realm, therefore men, elves, the missing dwarves and all animals or monsters, you're probably all daedra. Daedra have unearthly and demonic connotations, but only because people are ignorant of the fact that they and the animals or monsters that live around them are likely the metaphysical equals of the 'demons' that live in other realms. Hell, there are extremely "human" daedra and the magic of men and daedra are not only equivalent but work based on the same fundamental rules. The "gods" or Aedra do exist, or at least one of them does, and the story goes that most were daedric servants who rebelled against the realm's trickster creator god. The person who floats the idea seems ignorant about a lot of metaphysical trivia, is somewhat bonkers, might be lying due to his being a villain, and is unsupported by any other source on TES cosmology, thus probably meaning he's wrong about this.
In Morrowind, it was stated that the Daedra are eternal and can never be destroyed. The Aedra (the nicer gods) on the other hand are terribly powerful and ageless but can perish and indeed some of their number have been slain in the past. It therefore makes sense that they would seldom intervene in worldly affairs, as it risks their existence whereas the Daedra can happily engage in whatever plots they wish knowing that any defeat will only be temporary. This seems a little more likely than the point of view espoused in Oblivion, but its hard to tell either way from in-universe sources.
There was a God in Tears to Tiara. But not anymore, and the only people who ever met the guy have no idea where he's been for the rest of existence. It's actually a bit of an inversion, however. There is no God, but the Satanic figure is his former underlings the Twelve Angels. Satan himself is a pretty decent fellow here and refuses to be worshiped as a God, as that removes humanity's responsibility and will from its own hands. The angels though...
YMMV in Dragon Age: Origins: While it's unsure if the Maker exists, there is no Devil or god of evil, only personifications of character traits. A rage demon the PC fights with the help of a templar laughs at the templar's declarations of faith, taunting him that the god he worships and the heaven he hopes for simply don't exist, but that there are demons. He then attacks the party. (There is never any solid indication that the god the templars worship really exists. Their church was started by a prophet who was said to have divine powers, but there is a competing theory that she was simply an incredibly powerful mage.)
It has likewise been speculated that the Maker could be an unusually powerful benign Fade spirit (they exist, but since they don't try to possess people by force, they are rarely seen, unlike demons) - or a Pride Demon.
Regardless of whether or not God (the Maker) exists, the religion's particular belief is that the Maker turned his back on humanity, first for daring to try to reach his city deep within the Fade (which turned the Golden City into the Black City, unleashed the Archdemons and the Darkspawn, and caused the collapse of the powerful Tevinter Empire), and then for subsequently murdering his bride (the prophet Andraste, who had just convinced the Maker that people were worth saving when she was burned at the stake). Suffice to say, if there is a God, humans really went out of their way to piss him off. The church believes that spreading the Chant and defeating the Archdemons will allow humans to redeem themselves in the Maker's eyes.
The dwarves and the elves don't necessarily believe in the Chantry's teachings, preferring to believe in ancestors (Paragons) and the old gods (mostly of nature), for dwarves and elves respectively. There's no evidence for the old gods, but the Paragons really did exist.
According to Justice in the Awakening expansion pack even the spirits don't know if the Maker exists. As for the Devil there are no clear analogues except maybe the four demons that, according to the in-game codex, taught Humanity Blood Magic. On the other hand you can fight several of them in the games as optional bosses, so it's unlikely that they are somekind of Devil.
The creators themselves have said that it is intentionally ambiguous and they don't plan to give a clear answer.
Inverted in the Pokémon series games and anime where there is a counterpart for God called Arceus, but there is no counterpart for the Devil. Played straight in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers games however, where Arceus is nowhere to be seen, and that only one Pokémon, Darkrai is the true evil one.
There is one who carries a striking resemblance to good'ol Lucifer in it's backstory. Giratina was one of the first Pokémon Arceus created, along with Dialga and Palkia. While Dialga was given domain over time and Palkia over space, Giratina control matter and antimatter. However, while Dialga and Palkia were nice enough, Giratina had some bad behaviour, which led Arceus to exiling it to the Distortion Realm, the world opposite of ours. Giratina is the only living thing there, and has complete control over that realm.
In Mace The Dark Age, God and characters from Heaven are conspicuously absent, even though multiple demons are featured.
Fear Effect: The games make it clear that there is a Chinese version of hell and a Chinese version of the Devil called The King Of Hell. However, there seems to be no heaven or God - unless the island where the Eight Immortals (who don't seem to do much of anything) live at counts.
Averted in the Warcraft universe which does feature benevolent gods, including some who directly help the player at times. Interestingly, the game's most widespread "good" religion, The Light, is arguably more like Buddhism in that it has nothing to do with worship or deities and more to do with philosophy and introspection.
BlazBlue: There is no 'benevolent God', the closest thing you can call 'God' is a supercomputer more interested in keeping the whole world inside a depressing time loop. And there's the Devil figure known as the spirit Terumi Yuuki who actually succeeded in destroying or disabling that supercomputer.
Explicitly pointed out in Fallen London. When London was dragged a mile belowground it came into proximity with Hell, which exports Nevercold Brass in exchange for souls. There's no word on Satan, but there are devils aplenty, charming their way amongst society. Parts of the Church want to go to war against Hell - they did it once before and were crushed, but the devils were amused. They might not be amused again, but some of the clergy wonder.
"The thing is, we know the devils. But when did you ever see one of the Host? Their absence is nothing less than an embarrassment. Perhaps if devils go to war, then the Gate will open. Perhaps we can return to that blessed place. Perhaps we shall partake."
Demons obviously exist in the world of Zebra Girl, but there is noticeably no sign of God or any sort of angelic power. As is evidenced when Sandra (herself transformed into a demon) has a nervous breakdown and begins screaming into the sky, begging God for answers, before coming to the cold realization, "I'm just talking to myself here, aren't I?"
Satan has appeared a few times in Sluggy Freelance, but God has never been seen outside of a dream Kiki had (where he peed on her head). Averted during the "That Which Redeems" arc, however, where there is a Goddess of Good to balance out the Demon King. She's just been stuck in a freezer for a millenia or two.
In College Roomies From Hell, Satan certainly exists, being a major recurring antagonist. However, the only clear evidence that God exists is a few "miraculous" events and and Satan's own word; at least at one point, Margaret, the character Satan's most antagonized, was openly skeptical.
Futurama has a robot version of this. The robots make many references to Robot Hell (the Robot Devil is even a recurring character), whereas Robot Heaven only gets one sentence, and afterward is never mentioned again.
Robot Jesus is also mentioned. Jewish Robots believe that He existed and that He was a very well-made robot, but He wasn't their Messiah.
However, Bender interacted with a semi-corporeal space entity, which is strongly implied to be God - or, as Bender guesses and God seems to confirm, the result of God colliding with a space probe to become a kind of cyborg God. Its cameo in Bender's Big Score seems to suggest that some of its powers can be accessed without its awareness or consent by technological means, perhaps through its "space probe" half. This very entity directly TOLD Bender that it thinks that the best way to help people is to help them in a way that ensures they don't notice it. And given the strange prevalence of ContrivedCoincidences working out in the heroes' favor...
The Second Coming of Christ apparently happened in 2443, although its only lasting effect seem to have been the destruction of most of the world's video tapes and that people now prefix the name Jesus with the word "Zombie".
Bender did, in fact, visit Robot Heaven in a recent episode and met Robot God (and told him to shut up). He only visits briefly as a Robot Ghost, so it's not clear if It's a physical or metaphysical place. Robot Hell, on the other hand, is in New Jersey.
Trigon in Teen Titans is built up as the series' parallel to Satan in almost every way, but there doesn't seem to be a contrasting "God" figure at all.
Transformers Generation 1, cartoon continuity. While both the cartoon and the comics had devil-figure Unicron, God-figure Primus was a comics-only figure until Beast Wars ten years later.
The Grand Finale movie Predacons Rising finally clarifies the status of the Allspark in this series by blending everything ever meant by the word Allspark into one. Primus exists but we also don't meet him. Vector Sigma exists, and was used to restore the Matrix of Leadership in season two. Still, the Allspark is mostly something Optimus has to get back to the core of Cybertron, while Unicron is alive, active, and trying to destroy all life and bring about a reign of chaos. (But as stated before, God showing up to save everyone is sort of a drama killer, so it's best if Primus keeps his hands out of things.)
Jimmy Two-Shoes: Miseryville is practically Hell (in the original pitch, it was Hell, no question), with Lucius obviously a stand-in for Satan. Yet we never hear anything for the opposing side. In the original pitch, Jimmy was there on accident, which begs the question as to why God (if He exists) hasn't done anything.
God makes only a few appearances in South Park while Satan certainly has far more. In fact, everyone who isn't Mormon goes to hell.
This was changed in "Best Friends Forever" where the angels admitted that they needed to have non-mormons in heaven due to a general shortage of people to fight the devil.
God and Satan are on rather good speaking terms, and, despite all the fire and brimstone, hell is actually a pretty civil place. God and heaven aren't at all absent, they're just not as interesting.