Zeus takes down his old man Cronus
When there are multiple gods in a universe, they often come into conflict with one another, just like humans tend to do in real life. This kind of conflict usually plays out between two gods, with lesser gods or other entities like angels or demons functioning as their armies.
In some cases, the conflict plays out long before the time of humans. The winning faction is the one that rule over the world today, and is the one that is worshiped by the people. This scenario can be used as a Creation Myth
In other cases, the conflict is neverending
. The two factions or two gods don't ever stop fighting, or when they do, it will be at the end of time. This scenario is often used to justify the Balance Between Good and Evil
, especially when the two factions are led by a God of Good
and God of Evil
If the conflict escalates enough, it can lead to a Götterdämmerung
. Compare Cosmic Chess Game
, as well as Rage Against the Heavens
when mortals fight the gods instead.
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Anime & Manga
- It turns out that every conflict in the Saint Seiya mythos is between gods.
- Season 1 Athena was almost assassinated by a Gemini saint thanks to brainwashing by Hades.
- Season 2 Athena had to fight Hilda, also under brainwashing, this time from Poseidon.
- Season 3 She fought Poseidon directly.
- Season 4 (And in prequel Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas) she fought Hades directly.
- In the various movies (of questionable canonicity), she fights Apollo, Minerva, Eris and Satan.
- In Saint Seiya Omega she's had to fight Mars, who though a god was indirectly brainwashed by Abzu, an Ur god of elemental evil.
- In season 2 of Omega she fights not one but two gods, Pallas and Saturn.
- In Slayers, it is explained that countless millenia ago, the universe was nearly destroyed in a war between the forces of Flare Dragon Cifeed and Lord Shabranigdo. Cifeed just barely managed to defeat Shabranigdo, and save what was left of the universe in the process.
- The good, freedom-loving New Gods of New Genesis led by Highfather Izaya, and evil, oppressive New Gods of Apokolips led by Darkseid are locked in an eternal conflict with each other. It was settled through truce for a time with an exchange of Highfather's son Scott Free and Darkseid's son Orion, but when Scott escaped, Darkseid used that as a justification to restart the conflict.
- Followers of R'hllor in the A Song of Ice and Fire series believe that their god, the lord of light, is locked in eternal conflict with The Great Other, the lord of cold darkness, in a battle that determines the fate of the world.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, the Valar (lesser Good deities) fight against Melkor/Morgoth (an evil Vala), the Balrogs (corrupted Maiar/"angels") and Sauron (another corrupted Maiar/"angel").
- The Heroes of Olympus has an interesting example when the Greek gods start fighting with the Roman gods in that they're the same being, their Greek half and their Roman half, and the greater the difference between them, the more conflict they find themselves in. Frank, for example, has Mars and Ares constantly yelling, trying to outshout each other in his head. The few that avoid this are the ones whose Greek and Roman aspects are virtually indistinguishable from each other.
- Michael Moorcock's "Eternal Champion" stories often feature an endless war between Law and Chaos, as personified by the deity-level Lords of Law and Lords of Chaos. The war includes conflicts between lesser creatures of Law and Chaos as well.
- In the early Discworld novels, the gods of Cori Celesti are engaged in an aeons-long feud with the Ice Giants, who play their radio too loud and have refused to return the lawnmower.
- The reason the plot of Daughter of the Lioness happens. The Tortall Universe's Jerk Ass Gods frequently use mortals as proxies in their power struggles; two hundred years ago the God of War and Mother Goddess defeated their brother, Kyprioth, and subjected his worshippers, the raka of the Copper Isles, to conquest and brutal oppression from other humans—part of Aly's job is to help the raka rebels defeat the conquerors, which will give Kyprioth and the lesser tricksters the clout to drive out their siblings. The battle between gods takes place in the sky while the humans duke it out in the Final Battle.
- Lucifer's divine conflict with God reaches its dramatic conclusion in the Left Behind series, as the penultimate Battle of Armageddon in Glorious Appearing and the Final Battle between God and Satan's forces in Kingdom Come end up being one-sided Curb Stomp Battles, with the last one being very anti-climactic as God just incinerates Satan's forces in seconds.
- The Star Trek Expanded Universe novel I, Q gives us the Q Continuum's counterpart the M (both sides being Sufficiently Advanced Aliens that screw with the universe for their own amusement, or so it would appear). Neither side has any particular reason for being at war with the other (the initial reason was, quote, "Because there's something about you that really pisses us off"), but apparently one of the M invoking Your Mom was reason enough, even though nobody could figure out exactly whose mother had been insulted and nobody in the Q Continuum had a mother in the first place. And really, that's as much sense as the whole thing ever makes.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Prophets, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens that the Bajorans view as gods, have Evil Counterparts in the Pah-wraiths. According to legend the Prophets cast the Pah-wraiths out of the Celestial Temple (the wormhole) thousands of years ago, and they make repeated efforts to return during the series and battle the Prophets' representatives in the process. Implications are also made that the Prophets and Pah-wraiths are subtly influencing the course of the Dominion War in favor of the Federation Alliance or the Dominion, respectively.
Mythology and Religion
- In Classical Mythology, the gods of Olympus, led by Zeus, deposed the Titans (who were their parents and uncles) to become the new gods of the world.
- The Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish is likely the Ur Example. It deals with the conflict between the primordial divine couple Apsu and Tiamat, and their descendants the Annunaki.
- Egyptian Mythology:
- Set was often in conflict with the other gods, up to killing Osiris and driving Isis and Horus into exile. Horus would eventually return to drive Set off and reclaim Osiris' throne.
- Every night Ra had to pass through the underworld and battle the serpent-god Apep (a.k.a. Apophis). Sometimes Apep would eat Ra alive, causing bad weather. If Apep went after Ra during the day, we got a solar eclipse.
- Abrahamic religions: Satan's Rebellion against God/Yahweh. Though the reasons vary, whether because of hubris and/or refusing to honor human beings as God's greatest creation as ordered, regardless it resulted in Satan and his loyalists being cast out of heaven.
- Celtic Mythology: The conflict between the Tuatha De Danann and the Fomorians over the ownership and right to settle the island of Ireland from Irish Legends.
- Norse Mythology: The War between the Aesirs and Vanirs.
- Zoroastrianism: the conflict between Ahura-Mazda (Good) and Ahriman (Evil).
- Forgotten Realms:
- In general, the many groupings of gods in the setting are interminably at war with each other and/or with the denizens of the fiendish planes. The gods of knowledge battle the gods of destruction, the gods of justice battle the gods of tyranny and corruption, everybody hates the orcish pantheon, etc.
- The conflict between Selune, goddess of the moon, and Shar, goddess of darkness, goes all the way back to the creation of Toril. Among other things it resulted in the creation of Mystryl, the original goddess of magic.
- The Four Element Ensemble of deities representing fire, water, wind, and earth are each locked in battle with the one representing their opposite element.
- 1358 DR, the Year of Shadows, is best known as the year of the Time of Troubles or the Godswar. After Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul stole the Tablets of Fate from Ao the Overgod, Ao banished every god in the whole pantheon to the surface of Toril until the Tablets were recovered. The various avatars continued to battle each other both in person and through intermediaries, and several were killed.
- Tempus, the god of war, and his proteges Valkur and the Red Knight are all arrayed against Garagos, the six-armed incarnation of savage bloodlust (and former god of war in the Netherese pantheon before he was displaced by Tempus and went really crazy with the bloodlust). This one's interesting because Tempus, being one of the most powerful deities in the Realms, could explicitly stomp Garagos flat fairly easily if he wanted to, but for a War God he's a fairly decent guy and isn't interested in absorbing bloodlust into his portfolio (he only views war as worthwhile when there is peace to contrast it with).
- The Seldarine, the elven pantheon, all battle the Dark Seldarine, the drow pantheon.
- In the Dungeons & Dragons Birthright setting's Back Story the Good deities fought the Evil deity Azrai. They finally sacrificed themselves, destroying both themselves and Azrai.
- Warhammer 40,000: The God Emperor of Mankind is locked in endless warfare with the four Chaos Gods. The Chaos Gods are also at war with each other, and in Tzeentch's case with himself. The same conflict takes place in Warhammer, minus the God Emperor part.
- Risk: Godstorm pits the pantheons of the Egyptians, Greeks, Norse, Babylonians, and Celtics against each other in a fight for control of the ancient world.
- The basic concept of Scion - primarily between the pantheons and the Titans, but also within and between the pantheons as well.
- Lucifer's rebellion against God is often a key event in celestial-focused RPGs, such as In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas, its English version In Nomine, and Demon The Fallen.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's intro shows that the Hylia fought and sealed away the demons of the underworld and their king. The conflict even adopts elements of the "neverending" type by showing that Hylia's reincarnations (the princesses named Zelda) are forever cursed to be in conflict with the Demon King Demise's reincarnation (Ganondorf).
- The backstory of Grandia II is based on a war between the Big Good, Granas, and the Big Bad, Valmar. It's ultimately a deconstruction, because life under Granas was so perfect, with everyone's needs met, that it caused massive social stagnation, and it turns out Valmar actually killed Granas.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona: All the events in the Persona series happen because god-like beings Philemon and Nyarlathotep have a bet going on over whether or not Humans Are Bastards. Philemon believes humans can overcome their limitations, and gives them the power to use personas to fight for good, and save the human race from doom. Nyarlathotep is a God of Evil who thinks humans are destined to destroy themselves, and sends Demons, and in later games Eldritch Abominations called shadows, to run amok, hurt people and exploit the flaws of humanity.
- The MOBA game Smite is a Crossover Cosmology game all about this. It involves gods from various pantheons, such as Zeus, Loki, Sobek, Sun Wukong, and others, fighting one another.
- Being based on Classical Mythology, the game God of War has several conflicts between immortals. There was the war between the Gods and the Titans, the conflict between the primordial beings, and the demigod Kratos' own battles between pretty much any divine being who dares stand in his way.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising starts out as a war with Medusa then Hades and the forces of the Underworld, but partway through, Viridi, the Goddess of Nature, decides she's had enough of destructive humans and tries to eradicate them. Pit and Palutena then have to fight her off as well.
- In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, the God of Discord, Chaos, and the Goddess of Harmony, Cosmos, continually war against each other in an endless fight. They do this by summoning characters from the FF series to fight for them.
- In the Shin Megami Tensei series (which also includes the Devil Summoner series), the protagonists get involved in conflicts between either gods and demons or gods against the human race. This is usually due to Humans Are Bastards or Gaia's Vengeance.
- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn comes to a showdown between Ashera, the Goddess of Order, and Yune, the Goddess of Chaos, both of whom are aspects of the same being, Ashunera, who split herself into two halves.
- In the Diablo series:
- The Creation Myth is how the ultimate good Anu and the Prime Evil Tathamet battled each other for millenia, their remains eventually becoming the High Heavens and the Burning Hells respectively.
- In Diablo III, the archangels Tyrael and Imperius come to blows over Tyrael's involvement with the mortal realm, leading Tyrael to renounce his angelic position.
- The Dominions games have a variant of this. You're one of a number of pretender gods, all warring against one another to become the one true god.
- The Legend of Korra: In the two parter "Beginnings" we learn about the light and darkness spirits Raava and Vaatu and their conflict with each other. If either of them wins against the other on the day of harmonic convergence, there will be a 10,000 year age of light or darkness.
- In Samurai Jack, Aku's backstory is that he was once a part of an Eldritch Abomination that was fought against by the combined might of Horus, Odin, and Indra.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, moon goddess Princess Luna fought her older sister sun goddess Princess Celestia, when the former was corrupted by her jealousy towards her sister and decided to become sole ruler of Equestria. Prior to that, the two sisters fought against the much more powerful chaos god Discord in an effort to save Equestria from his reign of terror.