It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.
My dear Son Goku... Won't you take my place? The two of you will be very happy in heaven as god and goddess.
There's all sorts of odd jobs in the world, and some odd jobs have a job requirement of being a god, making them God Jobs.
In certain settings, the various god(s) and other mythical beings are not a single entity, but rather someone (who was at one point mortal, or even a muggle
) who holds a job or a title. Something like a mix between Anthropomorphic Personification
and Legacy Character
, where said personification is not an entity but a job being filled. May come with literal Contractual Immortality
for as long as the mortal still holds the office. Occasionally the original holder of the job was a literal Anthropomorphic Personification
; circumstances (or its death
) forced it to pass on its powers to a (deserving) mortal, who now occupies the office.
A specific subtrope of this deals with Santa Claus
, who is often a normal person who has to take the job of "Santa". Many Christmas specials deal with a new Santa gaining the job, or the old Santa looking for a replacement. Another common subtrope is for Death, and the period between the old death and a new death assuming the role often leads to Death Takes a Holiday
See Also: Someone Has to Do It
, when supernatural forces are making sure that such a post is filled, sometimes via You Kill It, You Bought It
. Also, people who ascend to such a God Job inevitably qualify as Physical Gods
. If you become a god of an unimpressive thing, your God Job might make you one of the Odd Job Gods
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The Guardians of Earth from Dragon Ball Z. Literally called "Kami," which means "spirit" or "God". In the Battle of the Gods movie, Whis offers Goku the position of "God of Destruction" after the fight with Beerus, but Goku declines.
- The Skypeia Arc of One Piece takes place in the White Sea, which distinctly resembles Fluffy Cloud Heaven, and is ruled by someone who holds the office of "God." Not quite an example, since it's just a title; although the title did get transferred through a kind of Klingon Promotion: the current God got it by defeating the previous one, and he was not that far off, power-wise: Nigh Invulnerable AND capable of avoiding attacks by predicting an enemy's moves AND restarting his own heart, capable of hearing anything said in his domain, plus enough offensive power to qualify as a Person of Mass Destruction.
- The position of God is more akin to a job in Mirai Nikki. The plot happens because the current God (Deus ex Machina) wishes to choose a successor because he is dying. Anyone who inherits the position will also gain the vast powers that Deus commands.
- This is how Light Yagami of Death Note views his acquisition of the titular Artifact of Doom and his mission to murder the world's entire population of criminals. Of course, Light isn't actually in the position of a god, nor is he any form of The Chosen One - he just likes to think so.
- This might be Wild Mass Guessing but in The Sandman it's theorized that the Endless work this way. The main example being Despair; the mortal person who killed the first Despair became Despair as punishment. Dream does something kind of similar, as the son of the person who killed him becomes the second Dream, although he had been groomed for the role for quite some time.
- Ernest Saves Christmas deals with this plot too, as Santa is looking for his successor to the job.
- The Captain of the Flying Dutchman in Pirates of the Caribbean is like a sea version of the grim reaper, in charge of bringing the souls of those who died at sea back to the afterlife. The Job is held by a mortal (or someone who's on the verge of dying) who becomes pretty much immortal as long as they keep the job.
- This falls squarely within the domain of You Kill It, You Bought It. Of course, anyone who faithfully captains the Dutchman for a decade has the option of leaving the position.
- The Santa variant of this trope is seen in The Santa Clause. Whoever puts on Santa's clothes following the previous Santa's death becomes the new Santa, with all the abilities, appearance quirks and duties this implies.
- They do, however, keep certain characteristics of their old self. The third movie deals with what would have happened if someone evil got the suit- a crass commercial greedy Santa.
- Ghost Ship: Ferriman.
"I'm a salvager. Just like you. You collect ships, I collect souls. And when I fill my quota, I send a boatload home. This will make management happy. You see, it's a job. Given to me after a lifetime of sin. So if I lose this ship, management won't be happy."
- The basic premise of Incarnations of Immortality is this: Various concepts (Death, War, Time, Nature, Fate, Evil, Good and Night/Secrets) are held by god-like beings who are in fact mortals charged with these offices, gaining immortality and supreme power over their respective domains in the process.
- Immortality is more than stretching it for Time (who retains his office for precisely as long as he lived before gaining it, since he lives BACKWARDS in time, and 'dies' at the moment of his birth (or conception, this is never clarified and other Incarnations say they aren't sure which)).
- In Thief of Time, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Time retires and is replaced by her son.
- Death is a role that must be filled, and when no one is around to do it, things get... weird. Nowadays his mostly-human granddaughter usually covers for him when he feels like taking a holiday- not out of her own will, but because if he goes too long without doing the Duty, she starts displaying more Death-like traits and has no choice in the matter. She's generally quite indignant about the whole thing.
- Nowadays it's heavily implied that the post of Death will eventually get passed on to Susan (the key word there being "eventually"), just as the post of Time was passed onto Time's son. There has been a lot of the Old Guard passing their jobs and duties onto the new though, or at the very least changing with the times (Kaos, anyone?)
- In Hogfather, Death himself takes on the role of the Hogfather (Santa Claus) when the Hogfather gets disbelieved out of existence, and his granddaughter Susan must both take on his role temporarily AND figure out just what's going on and stop it.
- In the Mythology of the Modern World stories on Banter Latte, some of the Anthropomorphic Personifications (such as the Neighborhood Coordinator) work this way, while others are supernatural beings that were never mortal.
- Tasakeru explores the various complications of an outcast being selected to fulfill the role of a God.
- This is the plot of Chinese classic novel Fengshen Yanyi, which is about how various heroes of Ancient China became gods during the legendary period during the rise and fall of the Shang Dynasty.
- Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure has a minor character in Marcus, a mortal who apparently got tricked into an agreement with Charon such that he has to spend six months each year taking Charon's place running the Acheron ferry to Hades so Charon can have some time off.
- Not gods, but the Faerie Queens' and Knights' positions in The Dresden Files are passed on in this fashion.
- The reapers of Dead Like Me work like this. The last person they reap before moving on gets the job.
- LOST: The protector of the island gets all sorts of cool powers, gets to set the rules for the island, and never ages. However, he can be killed by conventional means, so he must perpetually seek a replacement. Also, the finale implies that what's being protected is, at least in part, the afterlife, which the protector can never experience until he finds a successor and dies.
- Once in Xena: Warrior Princess, Ares loses his powers and it turns out that the god of war is a title; without someone in the position, violent urges in humans run rampant.
- In Supernatural Dean is temporarily made into a reaper to do Death's job for one day as part of a deal, if he wins then Death will retrieve Sam's soul. He fails, but Death decides that he learned the right Aesop anyway and holds up his end of the bargain.
- In Life On Mars and Ashes to Ashes, it's revealed that Gene Hunt is a Psychopomp, meant to ferry the souls of dead policemen to the afterlife. He himself was once a young copper, shot and killed during his first day on duty.
Mythology and Religion
- One of the main things that separates Mormonism from mainstream Christianity. Let's leave it at that.
- Common in Chinese myth, where a good official on Earth might be promoted to godhood. There is a story in Strange Tales From A Chinese Studio about just this happening, although the official gets a delay of nine years so can look after his aging mother until she dies.
- In Breton and Cornish folklore there is a Psychopomp known as Ankou, however unlike many other personifications of death Ankou isn't so much a person as a title/job and there isn't just one of them. Instead the last person from a parish to die that year becomes the next year's Ankou for that parish, with each parish having it's own Ankou.
- Gods in the Forgotten Realms work this way: Being a god is a matter of having a god's portfolio (essentially a god's authority over a specific domain). Many if not most of the gods of the realms used to be mortals at some points. On occasion, they even switch portfolios around or murder other deities to take over their job as well.
- A prime example is Cyric, who was a mortal who allied himself with the god of thieves, who had assumed the physical form of a sword. With it he killed the god of murder and the godess of illusion and took over both jobs.
- While not strictly speaking Gods (though many mortals worship them), being an Archetype of Unknown Armies is definitely a God Job. To qualify, you need to be a supremely empathic person with a strong soul, and behave in strict accordance with a specific idea of what a human being can be, like The Fool, The Trickster, or The Mother. Archetypes can be deposed by other people who walk a similar (but not identical) path to theirs and symbolically demonstrate their superiority to the reigning Archetype. Alternately, if most of humanity stops imagining an Archetype, then that Archetype disappears and whatever mortal held that office is cast down. The latter doesn't happen often, though; for an Archetype to exist in the first place, it has to be universally ingrained in the collective unconscious of humanity as a "thing," and ideas like that don't disappear easily.
- Exalted: It is theoretically possible for a mortal to get a god's job. It would require the mortal to already have divine power, either from having a divine ancestor or by being endowed with power from a god (which few gods think is worth the effort). Such god-blooded mortals have the potential to ascend into small gods themselves. Of course, Heaven is filled with unemployed gods, and if a position opens in the Celestial Bureaucracy, it is highly unlikely that that job would go to a former mortal. Being a god in Exalted doesn't necessarily mean being the god of something.
- At the end of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's expansion, Shivering Isles, the Player Character becomes Sheogorath, the God of Madness.
- Also, from The Elder Scrolls, according to popular myth (and an encounter in Morrowind), the god Talos was once the mortal Tiber Septim. Then there's the whole Physical God business of the tribunal.
- This is how Kratos became the God of War.
- Used in one ending of Princess Maker. Your daughter finds a way to defeat the ultimate evil (Lucifon) once and for all, only to get a Tomato Surprise since no one had an idea that You Kill It, You Bought It was in effect. (This is of course, another "do not mess with the 'natural' order" type trope.)
- Your daughter has to be pretty evil (high in sin) for this to happen, and it's mentioned in the ending that the job passes to the most "suitable candidate". Namely, your by now very evil daughter. If a less sinful daughter had killed Lucifon, things wouldn't have ended so badly (Though some other sinful person would have to take the job.)
- In The World Ends with You, anyone powerful enough to kill the Composer can become the new Composer themselves, granting them the authority to judge the souls of the dead.
- Cosmos and Chaos are this in the Dissidia: Final Fantasy series, having been assigned to rule over harmony and discord. The sequel explains their back-stories.
- In Family Guy, Peter has to become Death when the reaper twists his ankle. It's also told in another episode that Death inherited the job from his father.
- Same thing happens to Homer Simpson after he kills the Grim Reaper with a bowling ball, in the "Reaper Madness" episode from the Treehouse of Horror specials.
- In the Mortis-trilogy of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the dying Father, the the embodiment of the balance in the Force asked Anakin to replace him in keeping the balance between his Daughter and his Son, who were the embodiments of the Light and Dark sides respectively. However Anakin refused.