God in Human Form

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Gods just wanna have fun.

"You can see for yourselves. She is a god. A god who does not know she is a god."
Majere (referring to Mina) from Dragonlance

When some form of spiritual being, or deity, becomes encased in a mortal shell, usually causing them to have no or limited access to their powers...sometimes of their own design, sometimes forced upon them. Often referred to as an "avatar" after the Hindu religious term, but the word has gotten a little too commonplace to use as a trope name.

Of course, any example of this trope would be justified in saying "A God Am I", without the usual implications of megalomania. That said, many go the other route and say "A God I Am Not" due to their new proximity to mortality and humanity.

May or may not be accompanied with the loss of their memories of godly life. This is often justified as them wanting to better understand the lives of mortals, thus living a mortal life without remembering their godhood. In that case they may simply appear as a fully grown adult with no memory or past, or they may actually be born into a human family and live a seemingly average life.

As such, their human forms may often have a very different personality, and on occasion even alignment, from their True Self. For example, a villain could very well live their human life as a pure and chaste paragon of heroism, but return to villainy upon awakening. And a benevolent deity could very easily be a thuggish Jerk Ass. Although overall, it is more common for benign gods to be good people, and malevolent deities to be bad people. Killing the human form of the god, if it's possible, probably won't actually kill the god. Usually, it actually restores them to their former divine power and memories.

Note that despite the title, this isn't restricted to humans, it can include aliens and the like as well. As the Greek philosopher Xenophanes said: "If horses had gods, they would look like horses!"

Compare A Form You Are Comfortable With, Angel Unaware, Deity of Human Origin, and Physical God. Contrast God Guise, when the character is not a god but is merely pretending to be one. Also see Amnesiac God and God Test.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • A campaign of commercials for Hebrew National (a brand of Kosher hot dogs who claims that "we answer to a higher authority" as far as quality of their products go) shows God appearing as a hot dog vendor; while the viewers cannot see His face, the other people in the commercial who He is talking to clearly can, so this Trope probably applies.

    Anime 
  • This is one explanation for Haruhi's powers in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya—one both suggested and rejected by Koizumi. Fans tend to forget the latter.
  • Both pillars in Magic Knight Rayearth have much more power than they can comfortably use.
  • Tenchi of Tenchi Muyo! turns out to be the human avatar of the god that created the Tenchi multiverse (yes, that includes Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure and El-Hazard: The Magnificent World.), and who is above even the Tenchiverse's three resident Choushin (lit. "super-deities"). He has no direct memory of this, but has recently been told about it.
  • Jesus and Buddha from Saint Young Men are buddies who decided to spend their vacation on Earth.
  • Kamichu!! is all about an unassuming schoolgirl who becomes one of these. Reality ensues.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has two examples: The seventeenth Angel, Kaworu and Rei Ayanami are both opposing alien gods trapped in human form by an Ancient Conspiracy and a Magnificent Bastard, respectively.
  • In Popcorn Avatar, this is the current state for the Devas and Asuras. There's a point to this however, as Lisa explains that it's meaningless to try to even compete for the world if neither side knows of the importance of the world to begin with, and they need a human perspective.
  • Played With in Fruits Basket: Akito Sohma is the "God of the Zodiac", but she's not technically a god incarnate, or even a reincarnation. She's possessed by the spirit of the god (the same way the other Zodiac spirits possess people), and apparently the other members of the Zodiac have a psychic link to her. Aside from those powers, though, she's an ordinary mortal.
  • Sailor Moon: All of the Sailor Senshi could be considered this in a way when untransformed, the foremost examples being Galaxia (who casually nearly demolished Tokyo without transforming) and Minako (that multiple characters have called either the Goddess of Love or the Goddess of War).
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion ends with the goddess of hope (Madoka) being sealed into human form with Laser-Guided Amnesia...although the result is temporary at best. Because she was human before ascending, the process is more of a reversion than an alteration.
  • The various deities in Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? are living with humans and limit themselves to pretty much the same conditions humans live in, such as Hephaestus not using any holy tools to create a dagger for Hestia as a present for Bell. Their abilities is limited to falna which is basically a stimulant to Earthlings' own powers, and the Gods actually have to earn for their own living and actually can be killed.
  • In Brave10, Isanami is an incarnation of Izanami, goddess of the Japanese Underworld.

    Comic Books 
  • Death in the Sandman series does this for one day every hundred years in order to experience life and death and better understand both.
  • Doctor Donald Blake. When he hits his cane upon the ground, it is replaced by Mjölnir and he by The Mighty Thor.

    Fan Works 
  • Thousand Shinji: After their ascension to godhood, Shinji, Asuka, Rei and Misato spend at least several days every year in human form to remember what being mortal is like and keeping themselves grounded. Although they can shed those shells at any time, they can feel pain and exhaustion.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Dominus Mundi The King Of Kings, Harry is the mortal reincarnation of Anipheon, a former semi-mortal and ruler of the long gone Al-Antidian Empire, who became a full deity after dying.
  • Blackkat's Reverse shows that the fox summons worship Kurama as a god since he gave them sapience and power. When he find himself stuck into a human body and stumbles on them, they immediately identify him and seek to help him.
  • The Blooming Moon Chronicles has Luna, who is essentially the reincarnation of the Valkyrie Brynhild. Her siblings, Celestia and Sleipnir, are the pony forms of Freya and Thor, respectively.
    • Cadence Danzsöngr of the sequel series is also technically a god in pony form, as she was created to host the spirit of a Swan Maiden–a being similar to a Valkyrie.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Book of Life, La Muerte and Xibalba disguise themselves as an old woman and an old man respectively. In the Framing Device, they appear as Mary Beth and a museum security guard.
  • In The Return of Hanuman, Hindu God Hanuman descends to Earth as a human boy named Maruti because of his boredom as a result of staying in Swarglok (some Fluffy Cloud Heaven) for many years.
  • Kubo and the Two Strings: Kubo's mother was a daughter of the Moon King who gave up her life in the Heavens to be with a samurai she fell in love with. She still has powerful magic but she's not as unearthly pale as her sisters, neither does she glide motionlessly over the ground. Kubo inflicts this status on his grandfather in the end, along with amnesia.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bruce Almighty and the sequel has Morgan Freeman as God.
  • God does this in the movie Dogma in order to play skeeball, which almost leads to the destruction of the universe.
  • In Evil Dead 2, the way to get rid of the Evil was to make it flesh, then have it sucked into a portal.
  • According to the DVD Commentary, the hospitaller in Kingdom of Heaven is this, "Or at least some kind of angel."
  • George Burns plays the Almighty in the Oh, God! movie series. (He also plays the Devil in the third one.)
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Tia Dalma is the goddess Calypso. This particular case was decidedly involuntary; she was trapped that way by Davy Jones, with a little help from the Brethren Court, and spends the whole third movie trying to get her full power back. It works.
    • This is also parodied in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, where a tribe of cannibals think for whatever reason that Loveable Rogue Jack Sparrow is a God in Human Form. He thinks this is great- until he finds out that they intend to "release" him from said human form... by eating him.
  • In the movie Thor, the god in the title is Brought Down to Normal when he is exiled to Earth as punishment, after breaking a fragile truce with the Frost Giants.
  • In The Virgin Spring, Karin, who prays to Odin to curse her rival, enters the woods, where she meets a creepy old man. He is shown to have a collection of pagan artifacts, and he promises to "give her strength". It is strongly implied that the old man is Odin in human form.

    Literature 
  • The gods and goddesses do this sometimes in The Odyssey, though these are temporary shapes, and it's implied that the gods are merely Shapeshifting into a human aspect for their own purposes (like finding out information, or more often conducting a Secret Test of Character.)
  • The Ur-Example of this trope is oldest known work of fiction, The Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is a demigod, and Enkidu is made by the gods to keep him in check. Not sure if that makes them gods themselves or just Cursed with Awesome.
  • Emmanuel, the main character in the novel The Divine Invasion by Philip K. Dick, is, in actuality, the Judeo-Christian God - and he lost his memories in a car accident.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: Nyarlathotep often appears in the form of a man. He has several other avatars as well, ranging from aforementioned human form to monstrous and inhuman. In Lovecraft's canon he appears in human form in "Nyarlathotep" (the first story he appears in), in "The Dream-Quest of the Unknown Kadath", and (in both human and pseudo-human forms, described as looking demonic) in Lovecraft's sonnet "Fungi from Yuggoth". It's also briefly mentioned that he once took human form in the ancient Khem, better known as Egypt for modern readers. For completeness, he also appears in possibly pseudo-human form in "The Dreams in the Witch-House", in a monstrous form in "Haunter in the Dark", and one of his non-human forms is mentioned in Rats in the Walls. In "Haunter in the Dark" it's somewhat implied that he gained his human form by possessing a human (most likely an Egyptian pharaoh named Nephren-Ka).
  • Margaret Weis's The Dark Disciple series, Mina turns out to be a goddess of light, who was tricked into believing she was a human girl. She becomes a necromancer of death god, Chemosh.
  • In Small Gods, the Great God Om decides to visit the Disc in the body of a great bull. Instead, he gets stuck in the body of a tortoise, and doesn't have enough godly mojo left to get out.
    • Also by Pratchett, in Strata all sentient life in the universe falls under this trope, losing all memory of divinity in order to better learn.
    • The Death of Discworld isn't a god by the standards of his universe, but he does occasionally self-limit his powers and go walking the Disc disguised as a human. Usually fails miserably because: a) in spite of hanging around humans for millennia, he's no good at being one, and b) some supernatural crisis inevitably drags him back to work.
  • The Rifter: The Rifter is an incarnation of part of the god Parfir, who is the world, according to one version of the scriptures. Its current form, John, is certainly very human mentally and emotionally, but he has the power of a god too. He has a connection to the earth and living things which he can use to move storms in their tracks and cause rocks to grow, but also he has an immense reserve of furious energy that can rip the earth apart, and which responds to his negative emotions. Learning to control this power and use it for the good is a major part of the novel. The fact that the Rifter has human form meant that the Payshmura church could misuse the Rifter, killing its incarnations to unleash destruction on their enemies, and deeply damaging Basawar each time. If they’d continued on this way, they would have ruined the whole world.
  • Ian McDonald's novel Out on Blue SixKilimanjaro West turns out to be this.
  • In the Young Wizards series the most powerful of the Powers That Be exist mainly outside of time and, to be able to do anything to that which exists inside of time, not only need to insert fragments of themselves into the time stream(s), but also to put that fragment into a physical body. This is usually done by the fragment hitching a ride in an already living being (usually without the mortal host being aware), which limits the amount of power they can use. However, if the host dies they can slap together a blob of physical matter and shove the fragment into that, giving them much greater access to their powers (and in a few instances the Big Bad starts out that way).
  • The Devil from Glen Duncan's I, Lucifer is given the choice by God to redeem himself by taking over the body of Declan Gunn. He retains his devilish characteristics, but spends much of his time utterly overcome by the power of his human senses.
  • A character in the Well World series claimed to be this, more or less.
  • The group of so-called "wizards" in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, while appearing as old human men, are actually five Maiar, a kind of angelic spirit, who are themselves incorporeal but can usually clothe themselves in any form they like. The five have been sent on a mission to help the peoples of Middle-earth against Sauron, during which they are bound in their physical form, unable to change it, and also limited in their powers and knowledge.
  • In Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, it's strongly hinted a couple of times (though never quite confirmed) that the Martian-raised protagonist may in fact be the archangel Michael in human form.
  • In John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos, the children.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Dark One can manifest in the form of a Myrddraal called Shaidar Haran after the seals on his prison begin to weaken. He mainly uses this to spy on and terrorize the Forsaken.
  • The former lives remembered by the central protagonist in the Redfern Barrett novel Forget Yourself all appear to be those of Greek/Nordic gods and mythological figures, suggesting the land to have a possibly supernatural origin.
  • In David Eddings' The Elenium and The Tamuli:
    • The orphan Flute is revealed to be the Styric Child Goddess Aphrael.
    • In the last book of the Elenium and continuing in the Tamuli, Aphrael takes a new form: Sparhawk's daughter Danae. And this time, she may actually let herself grow up. The gods help Elenia.
    • Several other Styric gods show up in person in the Tamuli. Since there are a thousand of them with fairly small individual followings, they're not very powerful, so their appearance could be this trope or low-ranking Physical Gods.
    • Thanks to Bhelliom, Sparhawk himself became one of these temporarily, before realizing it was more trouble than it was worth and requesting a De-Power.
  • The final Choice between Light and Dark in the Mallorean reveals one of these: the relentlessly good-hearted Mystical Waif Errand, later renamed Eriond. Whether he was an Amnesiac God, was granted godhood by the Choice, or was Cosmic Retconned into always having been a god by the victorious Prophecy of Light is unclear.
  • Subverted in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy by the Lord Ruler, who is officially regarded in his empire as a "Sliver of Infinity", an independent manifestation of God that uses a human body. He's actually just a once-normal man who briefly touched divinity in his backstory, and though this gave him immense magical powers, he's still small change next to Ruin and Preservation, the real gods of this world.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • After his fall from godhood in Deadhouse Gates, Fener runs around somewhere in Letheras and appears in a humanoid form, not as a boar.
    • In The Kharkanas Trilogy Draconus lives among the Tiste and poses as one himself, despite being their creator. He also doesn't have his whole power in this form, as he put a part of his soul away into a Finnest.

    Live-action TV 
  • In Angel
    • Jasmine is supposedly a former Powers That Be who comes from another dimension to spread peace and love, albeit doing a lot of horrific things to allow herself to be incarnated bodily. She also achieves her aims through mind control and eating people.
    • Illyria. The loss of powers was definitely not an intended result in her case. Illyria is actually only an Old One, a group is very powerful and old pure demons. Her title as God-King is self given. If she's to be believed (and while Illyria is quite prone to boasting, it never seems idle), gods worshiped her as a god. The Old Ones aren't just demons, they're demon gods.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Anya wasn't exactly a god, but a demon with a great deal of power (granting wishes to scorned women). Then she got trapped in the form of a normal high-school girl.
    • Glory—in her case the human form was not just a different personality, but a different body and gender that Glory periodically broke out of to assume her own shape and at least some of her powers.
  • Leo in Charmed, after Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence twice. The second time was the reason for his depowering and mind wipe, as he had betrayed the set of gods he became part of for another more powerful set of gods.
  • In the new Doctor Who series, there are a couple of instances of Time Lords locking away their Time Lord identities and memories, and assuming human form. The Doctor does it to escape a family of short-lived assassins. Later, it's revealed that the Master did the same thing to escape the Time War.
  • This was done in Power Rangers Wild Force. And Kite/Animus ended up taking away the team's powers because of the current state of the environment.
  • Steven Baxter in The Second Coming is a very ordinary, not particularly bright bloke who suddenly finds out he's the son of God. He only discovers what he's supposed to do little by little. Killing him, in his human form, means that God dies. His dual nature makes it all incredibly sad: though the death of God is supposed to be a good thing and he eventually accepts this, Steven is also very much human and doesn't want to die at all.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Some Ancients would chose to descend from their "ascended" status, forfeiting all of the cosmic enlightenment (and in some cases, the memories) they gained while in that form. Also Daniel. Some of them (like Merlin) "cheat" by descending to human form while keeping the advanced knowledge of the Ancients, and come back as a more "advanced" form of human with Psychic Powers. And Daniel has more Ancient knowledge than he's "supposed" to, or at least did one of the two times he descended.
    • While the Ancients insist that they're not gods and refuse to act like them, their Evil Counterparts the Ori revel in their claim of godhood, and they pull this same trick in the form of Adria. None of them are willing to take a power downgrade by personally descending to human form, so they create a human-Ori hybrid that's "more evolved" than standard humans and packed with as much of the knowledge of the Ori as her upgraded human brain can handle. Adria serves as the Orici, a messiah figure in the Ori's religion and serves as a way for them to more directly intervene in the Milky Way, but do so without giving the Ancients an excuse to fight back before the Ori are ready. Until all the Ori are killed, and then Adria ascends and takes on all of the power of the Ori.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q got demoted to mortal as punishment from the other Qs. Later, the same happened to his son.
  • Supernatural: In the Season 5 finale, Chuck Shurley is implied to be the much-mentioned missing God. It is confirmed in Season 11 when he comes back to help the brothers fight The Darkness, also revealing himself to be God and having an emotional family reunion with his son Lucifer in the process.
  • Happens a few times in True Blood: Maryann was trying to either directly summon or just entice Dionysus to appear to her this way; the Faerie Elder wasn't actually a "god" but had this sort of reputation amongst her people; the Norris clan believed themselves to be the coupling of the Panther Spirit and a human, thus were all incarnations of a higher power, and thus needed to "keep the bloodline pure" leading to all the worst possible traits coming to the forefront. The fifth season brought us the Sanguinistas, a group of Vampire religious fanatics who were also secretly half the governing Vampire Authority. They believed Lilith to be the First Vampire, created "before Adam and Eve" and in "God's true image", with humans literally just food for them. After her death she became something more than physical. Drinking enough of the supposed Blood of Lilith, they began seeing her incarnate from a puddle of blood, calling to each of them to "be her prophet" and invoke this trope. It was all implied to be a long series of hallucination caused by the ancient blood. Until, after they all killed each other and the rest of the council in a bid for power, Bill was the last one standing drank ALL the blood, proceeded to melt into a blood-puddle and die (in that order), then emerge back from it just as Lilith had. This understandably freaked out Sookie and Eric.

    Music 

    Religion 
  • Jesus in The Bible, according to Christians, at any rate; Jews have another tale to tell, while Muslims split the difference. In fact, seeing as The Bible claims that "God made man in His image," this trope seems to make perfect sense, in a way, depending on how you interpret it.
  • All human beings are seen this way in some religions. Scientology is one example, considering human souls to be the reincarnations of alien souls. Mormons believe that everyone human started off as something approximate to God; the Veil keeps you from remembering properly and the human experience is seen as developmental and helpful rather than evil. In Gnosticism, the Demiurge is keeping you in a human state: for instance, Adam, the first human, was originally (and again once his human body died) the archangel Michael.
  • In Buddhism, the object of enlightenment is to reach Nirvana rather than become a god; although gods are seen as beings longer-lived and more powerful than humans, they are not much better or all-knowing. In Mahayana Buddhism, Boddhisatvas (which are basically all-powerful and all-knowing) can manifest in human or animal form if need be.
  • In Norse Mythology, the god Odin was known to appear to mortals in the guise of an old man.
  • As mentioned above, the Hindu concept of avatars is one of the most widespread and influential implementations of this trope.
    • As Hinduism is often seen as a pantheistic religion, all of reality can go under the umbrella of God in X Form.
  • In Japanese Mythology, Susanoo was exiled from heaven for offending his sister, Amaterasu, and forced to wander Japan for awhile. Eventually he killed the Orochi, found a wife, and got restored to his status as a god. He later became an Overprotective Dad against his daughter's suitor Okuninushi, but was eventually won over.
  • In Greek mythology, Apollo served for a year as the human-seeming shepherd to King Admetus.
    • Similarly, Demeter became nursemaid to King Celeus's son Triptolemus when she was too exhausted to continue the search for her own daughter. She wanted to make Triptolemus a god by covering him in ambrosia and putting him in the fire, but was unable to complete the process due to his mother Metanira walking in on her and freaking out. Demeter got a little annoyed, but unlike the more vengeful gods, she understood Metanira's feelings and groomed Triptolemus to be the first priest of her Eleusinian Mysteries as consolation.
    • Zeus made frequent forays to the mortal realm in human form to boink various hot chicks. And, on occasion, to test mortals, like he and Hermes did in the myth of Baucis and Philemon, where they disguised themselves as two weary travelers and visited a town. The rich folk living there turned them away, but the elderly couple Baucis and Philemon received them with glad hospitality. Zeus rewarded them for their hospitality by granting them their wish: that they should die at the same moment so neither of them had to live widowed. When they did die, they turned into trees, their branches forever intertwined in love.
  • Thoroughly averted in Islam. To believe that God would ever put himself in human form is not blasphemy or apostasy, it makes you non-Muslim by definition. Islam is very big on picturing God as a transcendent if benevolent being bordering on the Eldritch and is very critical of Pride (to say that God would take human form is to hold the human form somehow equal to Him, which is prideful on humanity's part) so it makes sense.
    • In point of fact, the religion scholar Stephen Prothero has gone so far as to say that this is the defining characteristic of Islam: the belief in the transcendence of God to the point where opposition to Pride is the central aspect of the faith (and in a way, he's indisputably right: Islam is, after all, Arabic for "submission/surrender"). This is why Islam is very definite on having no images of God; some very strict Muslims believe it's wrong to create anything at all (being that only God can create).
  • In Mayan Mythology, more specifically in the Popul Vuh, the Maya Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, are said as the mortal incarnations of two gods, Hunahpu being the incarnation of the sun god Tohil, while Xbalanque was the incarnation of the moon goddess Awilix.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a book on this.
    • It's worth noting that Dragons have their own deities whose avatars are dragons.
    • In the Dungeons and Dragons Avatar Series (books and adventures), the deities of the Forgotten Realms are forced to descend to Faerun in their considerably weaker avatar forms as punishment for the misdeeds of two of them.
    • In the Dungeons and Dragons Dragonlance setting, the god Paladine appears in the mortal world as the wizard Fizban.
    • 4th Edition has taken this to new levels by actually allowing player characters to be the mortal embodiments of a god with the various divine Avatar epic destinies, which represent a character discovering that they are a God in Human Form, or at least part of one, and ultimately ascending to rejoin that god.
    • "The Traveler" in Eberron is rumored to walk the world in thousands of humanoid guises.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the God-Emperor of the Imperium is the God of Humanity ...and a mortally wounded and crippled man kept alive in the most complex iron lung imaginable.
    • In desperate times, the Eldar will designate one of their own as the Young King, who is ritually sacrificed to awaken the Avatar of Khaela Mensha Khaine, their bloody-handed god of war, to walk the battlefield and lay waste to their enemies. In the fiction, it tends to get punked.
    • Also, the form the C'tan, and possibly the Chaos Greater Daemons, take on the battlefield.
      • One of the C'tan, the Deceiver, often takes on a human (or alien) form in order to manipulate people to do his bidding. Seeing how the C'tan are heavily inspired by Lovecraftian deities, he's essentially 40k's version of the aforementioned Nyarlathotep.
    • In both Warhammer 40K and Warhammer Fantasy, daemons are weak reflections of the Chaos gods.
  • Scion has the gods occasionally take on human form in order to conceive the eponymous Scions. One divine power, Avatar, allows them to temporarily lower their Legend to make the job easier (the higher a god's Legend, the more power they have to expend to take on physical form).
  • A mummy class enemy in Bleak World. They can be good or evil, depending on how the GM wants to portray them, and are going to be opposed on the orders of The Powers That Be either way. Your player character will likely come close to this, too.

    Theme Parks 
  • In the original version of Poseidon's Fury at Universal's Islands of Adventure, guests were guided by an eccentric old man known as "The Keeper", who at the end of the attraction would reveal his true form as Zeus, and then proceed to battle the evil Poseidon.

    Toys 

    Video Games 
  • DragonFable: While not quite a god, half-demon Warlic is cursed with a human body after defying his Blood Knight father. He's still immortal, and has gotten used to his new body to the point where he prefers it.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Zelda is revealed to be the reincarnation of the goddess Hylia.
  • Hakuoro and Diy of Utawarerumono. Technically the same person, actually, but due to being unable to die and having a huge mental breakdown some indeterminate but loooong time before, the person called 'Iceman' split into them. They tend to fight each other a lot as they embody separate aspects of his character. Hakuoro seems to vastly prefer his existence as a human, being the side of him wishing for peace/to be destroyed instead of to destroy while Diy is his violent chaotic side which seems to prefer Godhood so as to blow stuff up as part of his evil darwinist philosophy.
  • Joshua aka The Composer in The World Ends with You.
  • Arawn in Tears to Tiara is called the Great Demon God and actually hasn't really been depowered since before being killed a thousand years before. The actual problem is that he currently possesses a much more humanlike shell and that actually using that power properly will destroy his nerves and muscles, so he doesn't. Except he has been the entire time, leaving him incredibly worn out and ragged by the end. Also, even before when fighting with Pwyll he was already a depowered deity-level figure from being one of the Twelve Angels, and taking that form again causes him immense damage.
  • The God of Harmony in Lost Kingdoms has the form of the old woman Gurd. Or at least it's heavily implied if you find the secret room in the cathedral and read the books. But she just comes out and says it in the sequel.
  • Lufia and Seena from the Lufia games are the God of Death who occasionally take human forms.
  • Aveyond has The Oracle, who is an old woman despite statues of a young and beautiful Goddess. She claims that that was what she looked like way back when.
  • In the Lunar series, the world's patron goddess, Althena, takes the form of a human girl. In some versions of the story she incarnates regularly; in others it goes unmentioned, but either way it results in a heroine with mysterious powers and unknown origins. Lampshaded in Lunar: Silver Star Story/Harmony, when the hero tries to make a sculpture of Luna, and the person looking at it notices the similarity to the Goddess Althena.
  • If you play your choices right in Dragon Age: Origins, You can conceive one of these with Morrigan, a child with the soul of an old god. This will presumably have great consequences in the sequels.
    • The Reveal in Dragon Age: Inquisition is that not only is the elven pantheon real, at least two of its members are walking Thedas in humanoid forms: Mythal, goddess of Love and Justice, and Fen'harel the Dread Wolf. They walk Thedas as Flemeth and Solas respectively. Flemeth is the Fusion Dance of the original mortal human Flemeth and what was left of Mythal after she was murdered. Solas's true nature is more vague. It's also unclear whether or not the elven pantheon were ever truly gods in the first place.
  • In Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3, both halves of the Dragon-God get depowered and assume human forms as a result. Kokuryuu/the Dark Dragon had his weakened human body destroyed and his powers snatched by an enemy, although it didn't cause power loss to his miko. Hakuryuu/the White Dragon is initially found in the form of a pre-teen kid (also qualifying for the Really 700 Years Old trope as the Dragons have been around for at least 300-400 years by that point); he partially retains the ability to cross time-space, and later regains some of his power and assumes a more adult form. In one side game, both Dragons can be seen in both childlike and adult human forms.
    • Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5 features human forms of The Four Gods. Needless to say, they're extremely pretty (especially Suzaku and Genbu).
  • In Jade Empire, Kang the Mad is really Lord Lao, the god of machinery with Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • Mortal Kombat's Raiden, thunder god and protector of Earthrealm. Originally a God of Evil in the original game, later retconned into a mentor for the good guys. (By way of the movie) Once an Elder God, he later took human form to assist the heroes in their defense of Earthrealm.
  • Oracle of Tao, this is the basic premise behind the hero's amnesia. Things don't add up with her memories and she thinks that she might not exist, but the truth is in fact she's the only one who does exist, and the world is a dream.
  • The twin goddesses of Ys in the first two games.
  • The Big Bad of Xenogears is essentially the physical avatar of Deus, created 10,000 years before the beginning of the game, manipulating history in order to orchestrate its revival.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII the Fal'cie seem to have the ability to do this. Most prominently, Barthandelus uses the guise of primarch Galenth Dysley to control Cocoon while avoiding its residents' eyes.
    • as of the third part of the trilogy, Lightning and Hope both qualify for this. Lightning is a former servant of Etro and possesses both her power and Bhunivelze's light within her as a savior, and Bhunivelze has taken Hope's soul from his body to use as a pawn to get close to Lightning.
  • The main protagonist and antagonist of Final Fantasy XV, Noctis and Ardyn respectively, could be considered this, seeing as both are of Lucian descent, and are imbued with the power of kings past.
  • You know that gas station attendant you meet in the "the-first-day-you-reach-Inaba-kind-of-early" early beginning of Persona 4? Well, that person happens to be Izanami. As in the Japanese Shinto Goddess, Izanami. And did we mention that she happens to be the true and final Big Bad of the game?
    • One other thing. You know your player character's very first Persona, Izanagi? Yes, he is based on, if not is, the Japanese God, Izanagi, the brother/husband of Izanami.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, Hikaru is a heavily depowered Lucifer. She can regain her lost powers and male body if someone agrees to fuse with her. Earlier, in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, he's seen by the insectile Mushibito as his Dragon Beelzebub.
    • Across the main series, YHVH has mostly ceased to appear directly, instead sending avatars to oversee and confront threats, such as the Ancient of Days and Kagutsuchi.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, compared to the inhuman demons and gods present in IV and even in Final itself, Krishna, the new Big Bad opposing the ones from IV, looks like a dark skinned, floating human. Subverted with YHVH, who, after decades, returns in full force as the Final Boss.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Javik explains that the Protheans believed that certain beliefs or concepts could manifest in physical form, being found in the truly extraordinary people in the Galaxy. For his actions during the Prothean-Reaper War, Javik was identified as the Avatar of Vengeance. He later states his belief that Shepard is the current Cycle's Avatar of Victory.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In the series' backstory, the creator god Lorkhan (known by many names), was "killed" for his perceived treachery by the Aedra, who he convinced/tricked (depending on the storyteller) into creating Mundus, the mortal plane. They cut his heart from his body and cast it down into the world he helped to create, where his spirit is forced to wander. At a few points in history, his spirit manifested in a physical form, known as "Shezarrines". They most often appear in times of great peril for mankind, aiding mankind by, most often, killing lots and lots of Mer (Elves).
    • The HoonDing, the Yokudan/Redguard spirit of perseverance and "Make Way God", manifests itself using mortal avatars. According to some interpretations, these avatars aren't necessarily the HoonDing itself, but the HoonDing taking over and/or working through the avatar. To note:
      • Frandar Hunding was one form. Hunding led an army of "sword singers" to victory over Emperor Hira of Yokuda. He later led the Redguard people to Hammerfell and "cleansed" it of hostile threats in order to make it safe for Redguard habitation.
      • Diagna, "God of the Sideways Blade," was another. Diagna defeated the Left Handed Elves of Yokuda and later, defeated the Orcs of Orsinium at the height of its ancient power.
      • Cyrus the Restless, hero of the The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard spin-off game, was the most recent. Through the events of that game, Cyrus forced the Septim Empire into a treaty with better terms for Hammerfell while freeing the island of Stros M'Kai from its corrupt Imperial governor and the threat of a Sload necromancer.
    • Magnus, the God of Magic who served as the architect for Mundus but abandoned it part way through creation, is said to inhabit the bodies of powerful mages and lend them his power.
    • In Morrowind's Imperial Cult questline, several of the Divines appear as unassuming victims. You can help them escape their captors/dangerous situations by giving them a Divine Intervention scroll, after which they will reward you with enchanted artifacts. At the very end of the main quest, Talos will appear as an old Imperial soldier named Wulf within Ghostgate. He'll wish the Nerevarine luck and give them his lucky coin, which imbues a power that dramatically increases the Luck Stat for a short time.
    • Oblivion
      • In The Shivering Isles expansion, you meet the Daedric Prince of Madness, Sheogorath, in the form of a man in a purple suit. At the end, the player character becomes the new Daedric Prince of Madness.
      • In the Knights of the Nine expansion, it's heavily implied that the prophet is Talos in disguise.
    • Skyrim:
      • The Player Character is a Dragonborn, a rare mortal gifted with the immortal Aedric soul of a dragon by Akatosh, the draconic God of Time and chief deity of the Nine Divines pantheon.
      • Sanguine, the Daedric Prince of Debauchery, makes an appearance in a sidequest as Sam Guivenne, acting as a drinking buddy to the Dragonborn.
      • A prominent theory regarding the anonymous "Friend" who sends letters to the Dragonborn revealing the locations of Word Walls states that these are coming from Talos.
  • Nora, an Eliatrope girl (who is part of the Council of Six) from the Islands Of Wakfu game could be considered an example, as she and her dragon brother Efrim share a special relasionship with the Great Goddess Eliatrope (who along with the Great Dragon created the whole Krosmoz universe), and channeled her power to destroy Organax, a Mechasm hell-bent on killing all Eliatrope, as well as all life on the planet.
  • Tales of Xillia has Milla Maxwell, who is that Maxwell in the form of a human woman. Except she's not actually, being merely The Bait and meant to think that to draw Exodus to her. And then it's Double Subverted when she ascends to being a Spirit and ultimately takes up the duty of Maxwell after the death of the first.
  • Tales of the Abyss reveals, via the world's physics and Lorelei himself, that Luke, that is the "replica" version not the original, is this trope. Unfortunately the ramifications of this aren't addressed for various reasons; including everyone not realizing that when Lorelei called Luke his Scion he meant it literally and not as a metaphor.
  • In Granblue Fantasy, a lot of Primal Beasts look humanoid on some level, but some of them are seen outright taking a human form and walking among the mortals. Examples include Noa, Grand Order/Zooey, Lucifer/Lucio, Oneiros/Phoebe and Rose Queen/Rosetta. Noa is in fact never seen in any other form, probably because where most Primal Beasts govern concepts or natural phenomena, he is the "god" of shipwrights, a distinctly human activity.

    Web Comic 
  • Alex from Captain SNES: The Game Masta is a Creator In Sprite Form. This makes his predecessor, Kevin Keene, also one in that continuity.
  • Off-White: Iki is actually the mortal form of Skoll, the sun chaser.
  • The MYth series has Apollo, Hermes and Artemis in the Sunny storyline and omake. Also Zeus, Hades, Persephone, Ares, Hermes and Artemis in the Irresponsable omake, with Demeter being the interesting "god reincarnated as a human without powers but remembering her past life" case.

    Web Original 
  • Fine Structure features both the Big Good and the Big Bad in mortal human bodies, with useful but not unreasonable superpowers.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, gods can end up in human form whenever they possess a willing mortal host. Although possessing a mortal makes the gods unable to use their full powers, it also prevents them from being permanently killed off (if the host dies, the god's essence can simply leave the body and return to the High Plane unharmed).
  • In God Of High School, Jin Mo-Ri is the "revert to infancy" variant, with his original form being the god Sun Wukong, the immortal Monkey King, sealing most of his powers in the process along with his memories.

    Western Animation 
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender includes the Moon and Ocean Spirits, Tui and La respectively, except their physical form is a pair of koi fish.
    • The Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra expands on this further: the Avatar Spirit's name is Raava, the spirit of light who decided to be eternally bound to a human host in order to bring peace to both human and spirit worlds. The cycle of reincarnation also makes Raava stronger with each rebirth, as when the previous Avatar dies, his/her power is added to the Avatar Spirit, most clearly seen when each Avatar is in the Avatar State.
  • Disney's Hercules series had Zeus turn himself into a human teenager, ultimately even less powerful than Hercules, to prove a point to his son. This backfires on him dramatically, especially after Hades finds out that his nemesis is temporarily mortal. He maintains his memories throughout, and it only lasts a short while before he returns to his godly form.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer the Heretic", God appeared more-or-less human (still rather intimidating, and you couldn't see His face) when He appeared to Homer in a vision. (Homer's description of Him was, "perfect teeth, nice smell, a class act all the way". Curiously, He had five fingers on each hand, unlike most characters on the show.
  • Transformers Prime has the Covenant of Primus reveal that Orion Pax is the reincarnation of "Thirteen," the last of the thirteen original Primes, who willingly entered the Well of Allsparks so he may be reborn anew as an ordinary Cybertronian in order to better understand the needs of the new generation of Cybertronians. When he accepted the Matrix of Leadership, he regained his memories and retook his original name: Optimus Prime. It should be noted that the only ones aware of all this was Alpha Trion, and after regaining his memories, Optimus himself.
  • Wakfu has Sadlygrove who turns out to be the lop god who relinquished his powers to be mortal and has been reincarnating for centuries.
    • There's also a potentially more powerful example with Yugo, who, according to supplemental materials is the Eliotrope (yes with an 'o') king-god because he had created them (by accident) when he used the six Dofus to help Sadlygrove fight Ogrest and the dragons. However, it's unknown if he has the same power as the other gods.


Alternative Title(s): A Human Am I

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GodInHumanForm