"God? Love? Don't make me laugh. Back when I was just a brat, crawling around that shithole city, it seemed like God and love were always sold out when I went looking. Before I knew better, I clung to God and prayed to Him every single night. Yeah, I believed in God right up until that night the cops beat the hell out of me for no reason at all. All they saw when they looked at me was another little ghetto-rat with no power and no God."Bad things tend to happen, but some are so bad that some characters can't refrain from concluding that there can't be a God in this universe, or if there is then he's insane or malevolent. Please note that this trope is about questioning a benevolent God's existence because of a single bad event or series of them. If God is confirmed not to exist in this particular universe, it's Religion Is Wrong. When God is confirmed to exist and also confirmed to be good but lets the bad event happen anyways, you have the Omniscient Morality License. To counter this idea, the faithful may choose to believe that God works In Mysterious Ways, so He may allow bad things for a higher purpose. One common argument is that evil results from God allowing people to have their own free will. There is also evil existing as a test. Alternately, perhaps God Is Flawed. Sometimes this is the result of a game of Religious Russian Roulette. See also Crisis of Faith. The direct opposite is, of course, There Is a God! Compare God Is Dead. Also compare A God I Am Not, where a godlike being refuses to be called "God". May be related to Good Running Evil. Compare FaithHeel Turn, which is when this trope leads to the character actually becoming evil. See also Break the Believer, in which someone's core beliefs are proven wrong.
— Revy, Black Lagoon
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Anime & Manga
- Revy from Black Lagoon explains that she used to be very devout when she was a child until the day she was beaten half to death for no reason by a group of corrupt cops.
- Colin Macleod wears this on his sleeve in Highlander: The Search for Vengeance after antagonist Marcus kills his wife.
- Setsuna F. Seiei from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 believes that there is no God after his traumatic childhood. To summarize, he (and a number of other children from his hometown) were convinced to become Child Soldiers by an Axe-Crazy mercenary in what he described as a "holy war."
- In One Piece, the Minister of the Right refuses to believe that there is a god or a Buddha after Queen Otohime is shot during the most successful time of her and possibly the kingdom's life.
- One of the story beats in Warren Ellis's run on Stormwatch, which carried over into The Authority a few years later, was that God does not exist. The Doctor mentions it offhandedly in Ellis's final arc, and earlier, a "villain" called the Eidolon had come back from beyond the grave to try to convince people to make the most of their lives.
- Garth Ennis, an outspoken atheist, really, really likes this one.
- A favorite Author Tract in The Boys.
- Jesse Custer in Preacher truly came to believe in God due to his abusive childhood and hitting the Despair Event Horizon. After a few years of dealing with the petty evils of his congregation as a priest he slid back into hollow faith and Drowning My Sorrows, believing God wasn't really there after all. And then along comes Genesis...
- Just a Pilgrim: the titular pilgrim, an ex-Special Forces type who found the Lord in prison, survived the end of the world when the sun moved closer, drying up the oceans, and found the last remnants of humanity hiding in the Marianas Trench. Throughout the entire book his faith in God wouldn't be out of place in Warhammer 40,000, but he finally snaps when a mutant race of jellyfish takes over a little girl. His last act before his Heroic Sacrifice is to toss out the Bible he wanted the surivors to take.
- Persepolis: After her beloved Uncle Anoosh is executed by the fundamentalist regime as a communist dissident, Marjane tells God that she hates him and doesn't want to see him anymore. He still pops up from time to time, however.
Films — Live-Action
- In Caddyshack, one of the club members (who happens to be a bishop) has his perfect game of golf (in the middle of a raging storm) ruined by a single bad putt, turns to curse the heavens, and is struck by lightning immediately. The next day, he's shown as a drunken mess proclaiming that there is no God.
- In The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), the despairing title character gives up all hope in God, having been incarcerated in a harsh French prison for several years.
- Brassed Off: Mr Chuckles, after memorably screwing up a children's party:
Angry Middle-Class Mum: May god forgive you.
Mr Chuckles: God? Oh right, there now, there's the fella. I mean what's he doin', eh? He can take John Lennon, he can take those three young lads down at Ainsley Pit, he's even thinkin' of taking my old man, and Margaret bloody Thatcher lives? I mean, what's he soddin' playin' at, eh? ... You've been great. My name's Coco the Scab.
- Illusive Tracks: One of the nuns, after Gunnar wreaks havoc and hurts several people, including her.
- In the film version of Born on the Fourth of July, Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) rants at his mother:
Ron Kovic: It's a lie! It's a fucking lie! There's no God. God is as dead as my legs! There's no God, there's no country! Nothing. Just me and this fucking wheelchair for the rest of my life."
- In Pitch Black, Imam believes this to be the case with Riddick. Turns out that, after all the harshness that has been his life, it's actually a couple of different tropes that Riddick believes.
Riddick: Think someone could spend half their life in a slam with a horse bit in their mouth and not believe? Think he could start out in some liquor-store trash bin with an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and not believe? Got it all wrong, holy man. I absolutely believe in God. And I absolutely hate the fucker.
- In Cube Zero, at the end of the titular Death Trap filled labyrinth any survivors are asked if they believe in God. If they say "no", the Cube's operators press a button marked "No" which causes the survivor to be incinerated. When the new operator asks what the button marked "Yes" does, the other much older operator says he doesn't know: no one has ever said "Yes".
- Faust: Love of the Damned: After artist John Jaspers' girlfriend is murdered by a group of criminals, he becomes a suicidal nihilist. He is then approached by M, who remarks that selling his soul shouldn't mean anything for someone who believes in nothing anyway.
- Six Shooter: "I don't believe in God. Not no more." So says Donnelly, who has just left the hospital after his wife has died of cancer.
- In April Showers, Sean questions what kind of God would let the school shooting that killed his friends and the girl he loved happen.
- A horrific series of famines drove an entire nation to this in The Reynard Cycle.
- This is invoked through a bet in The Book Of Job. In it, Satan asks God if Job would lose his faith in him if he would lose everything. God offers Satan to do some dirty work to find out. It gets subverted though, as Job retains his faith in God and he is rewarded with more of what he had before.
- In The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape's nephew, the lesser devil Wormwood, must have proposed trying this tactic to wrench humans away from God with the looming horrors of the Second World War, but Screwtape counters that while the horrors may affect some humans so, others wind up coming through the trial with renewed faith and many more are made to confront death - which forces them to confront those questions, thus enabling them to perceive and accept God's grace.
- Unlike his movie counterpart, in Fight Club, the intense and self-destructive Tyler Durden uses this to explain why he does what he does.
Mechanic (quoting Tyler): If you're male and you're Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?
- The Space Mormons of planet Grayson in the Honor Harrington series have the philosophy life is a test. In other words, it is supposed to be hard, miserable, and full of pointlessness. That's the only way you can become hardened and a good person. Notably, this philosophy was influenced by the fact they live on a Death World.
- In Silas Marner, the title character succumbs to this trope after being framed for robbery by his best friend and driven out by his church community, leading him to become a bitter reclusive miser. He gets better.
- In the Warrior Cats book Sunset, Mothwing is a medicine cat that doesn't believe in StarClan - basically the equivalent of an atheist priest. She explains to Leafpool that the reason she stopped believing is because her brother revealed that he'd faked the omen that made the medicine cat choose her as apprentice, and that if StarClan really existed they wouldn't let him threaten/blackmail her and do evil deeds to gain power. (They do exist in the series, they're just The Watcher and don't/can't interfere.)
- All in the Family: Season 8's "Edith's Crisis of Faith." Her steadfast Christianity — she defined it far better than Archie ever did or could — is one of Edith's defining traits, and makes her who she is. So when she witnesses her son-in-law, Mike, and the family's friend, Beverly LaSalle jumped and brutally beaten in a robbery attempt, and Beverly dies of his injuries, Edith wonders why God allowed the bad guys to win. She temporarily renounces her Christianity ... until Mike tells her that maybe God didn't want this to happen, but merely it was just bad guys being, well, bad guys. Edith realizes that some things aren't meant to be understood — i.e., why evil exists in the world (a large reason why Mike years earlier renounced his Catholic vows) — and that she has not only good memories of the family's friendship with Beverly ... and a lot more to be thankful for.
- There was a throwaway gag in one episode of Frasier where he learnt that a radio show he hated had received national syndication. Frasier's response was something along the lines of "Well, that's great news for her - and also for the many atheists who will welcome this new proof of their theory."
- Firefly: Mal was apparently a Catholic in his earlier years, but lost his faith at the Independents' crushing defeat at the Battle of Serenity Valley. His change is often described as deciding "God disagreed with him politically."
- On Carnivāle Brother Justin's faith is shaken when the church he built is burnt down. As he tells reporter Tommy Dolan at a hobo fire, "I lost my God." When he regains his faith it will be as a full-on Dark Messiah.
- In Deadwood, Reverend Smith is suffering from some kind of brain disease, but doesn't do himself any favors by continuing working and thinking it's God's will that he got sick. Doc Cochran says "If this is God's plan, Reverend, He is a son of a bitch." He later yells at God for allowing people like the reverend and the dying soldiers he met in the Civil War to suffer so badly.
- In Christopher Durang's 1979 Black Comedy play Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You Diane Symonds tells the horribly abusive nun, Sister Maty Ignatius, that she was the one to come up with the plan to humiliate her with three other former students. Diane clung to her Catholic faith because she had believed in what Sister Mary had taught them years ago but losing her mother to a long painful battle with breast cancer and being raped the same night. Feeling her faith had long failed her and that God had just let it all happen, Diane had got her fellow students to humiliate Sister Mary and kill her.
- Higurashi: When They Cry uses an extremely dark take on this in the backstory of Miyo Takano, making this trope the root cause of both her megalomania and as a result the Endless June.
- Cracked loves this trope. Especially in lists of Top X Things That Are Somehow Unpleasant To Even Read About, often with the caption of "Where is your god now?"
- One article in The Onion had a Straw Loser whose very existence was an affront to both the theory of evolution (what evolutionary purpose can this guy possibly serve?!) and the existence of a kind and loving god (if we're made in God's image, well...), with each side parading him around as the ultimate argument against the other.
- The Music Video Show does this in episode 39. "Michael Jackson. Dead. Robin Williams. Dead. Scott Stapp. Still alive. There. Is. No. God!"
- A character or person facing this problem is confronting The Problem of Evil, as discussed on The Other Wiki. Proposing a solution to the problem of evil is called a Theodicy.
- The podcast God Awful Movies reviews bad religious movies, almost always Christian. They've started to joke about how apparently every atheist's mother has cancer, since this is used to invoke the trope in so many of these movies.
- SCP-1983-2 are Living, heart-stealing Shadows that can only be killed by silver bullets fired accompanied by prayer. Doesn't matter who you're praying to while you shoot, just as long as you mean it. When the Foundation sends a team into their Eldritch Location, they get picked off one at a time, and the last one to die makes it as far as their nest. After seeing how 1983-2 are born, he can't pray anymore. Not and mean it.
- In The Simpsons episode "Last Exit to Springfield," when the school photographer gets Lisa to smile for her school photo and sees the horrible 19th century style braces she's wearing (because there's no dental plan at the Power Plant where Homer works) he gasps out "There is no god!"
- The infamous Family Guy episode "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven" has Brian using Meg's unattractiveness as evidence of God's nonexistence.
- South Park:
- One episode sees Cartman inheriting a million dollars and buying his own private theme park. Kyle is dumbfounded at the idea that God would reward such a rotten person, and ends up getting a hemorrhoid. As things get better for Cartman, Kyle's condition worsens and he renounces his faith. At the point where Kyle is on the verge of death (yes, from a hemorrhoid), Stan brings him to the theme park in time to see Cartman's dream destroyed by his own greed, at which point Kyle makes a miraculous recovery.
- The episode also has Kyle lampshade the story of Job by asking how the God who would punish a decent man just to prove a point to Satan could possibly be considered benevolent. It doesn't help that his parents don't read the last part, where God rewards Job,and gives him more than what Job had before he lost everything.