A specific type of The Reveal
that deals with God
or a similar powerful figure and shows them to have been with the protagonists just about from the beginning. May be especially jarring if it turns out to have been the Non-Human Sidekick
or something similar, though usually enough hints are dropped
that the Genre Savvy
viewer can figure it out beforehand... most of the time.
If the protagonists are upset by the fact that the God figure didn't use their powers to help them earlier, a Hand Wave
of "You Didn't Ask
!" combined with having to maintain the Balance Between Good and Evil
is often used. Or possibly God just wanted to help the protagonist in some way
without completely spoiling things for him
. If God
doesn't seem to do any miracles, but somehow nudged events anyways, He's working In Mysterious Ways
. However, it's commonly kept ambiguous
whether he did anything miraculous — or even whether he's God at all.
The opposite of this trope is the Louis Cypher
. Compare Pals with Jesus
, Angel Unaware
, and King Incognito
. If they're shown to be there from the get go, it's Sidekick Ex Machina
. Compare Fairy Godmother
of Secret Identity
Due to the nature of this trope, massive unmarked spoilers ahead.
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Anime & Manga
- The Unintelligible Mokona at the end of the Magic Knight Rayearth manga was revealed to be the equivalent of God, or at least can channel him. Before you ask, the ones in ×××HOLiC and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle are copies. Their full name, Mokona Modoki, translates to something like "Mokona Knock-Off."
- The Tenchi Muyo! OVA series pulled this off no less than four times, with Sasami having merged with Tsunami, one of the three Chousin, her mother Misaki being Counteractor, one of the few beings capable of fighting the Chousin, Washu being another one of the three Chousin, and finally Tenchi himself being an avatar of a force even more powerful than the Chousin themselves.
- Saori in Saint Seiya in about the mid of the first season is revealed to be the earthly incarnation Athena.
- Vivio, Nanoha's adopted daughter in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, turned out to be a clone of Sankt Kaiser Olivie, the Belkan Saint Church's figure of worship. One wonders if the Saint Church finds it weird that they have their equivalent of Jesus Christ enrolled in one of their schools. (It turns out they're honored.)
- In Mai-Otome, it turns out that Mikoto, the chubby black cat that hangs around Mashiro, is mentally connected to Mikoto, the petite but deceptively-strong goddess who lives in the Black Valley with Mai and uses astral projection to keep people away from the Harmonium Organ.
- In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, second-season character Hanyuu has been present all along, but gone unnoticed by the main character due to being intangible. She describes herself as "a powerless god" since she can't influence events positively: when the True Companions start to go off the deep end, they become somewhat aware of Hanyuu's presence but it only registers as the sense that they are being watched by something they can't see, which only makes them even more paranoid. Later on, she begins taking a more positive and active role.
- In Eureka Seven, the comic-relief mystical tea-brewing Gonzy turns out to be a Coralian himself.
- in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Rei Ayanami turns out to be an incarnation of Lilith, the source of all life on Earth. And shortly after, some very, very bad things happen.
- In El Cazador de la Bruja, in the middle of Mexico/South of Mexico, there is an inn run by an old man; he stops the villains chasing the heroines for a day or two so that they can have some Character Development. This includes a Tyke Bomb and witch with magic powers, who he stops simply by looking at them. Apparently he is really the Hopi Fertility Deity Kokopelli and takes the form of a white author who died 3 years prior to the plot.
- Baccano!! has its own strange take on this idea. Maiza's co-pilot isn't God, but rather Nyarlathotep's Expy.
- Crimson features God masquerading as a little black girl who never says anything (though she apparently communicates telepathically) and just goes around either selling flowers to the unaware protagonist or doing friendly miracles, such as reviving a café full of people killed by some overzealous archangels, and offering redemption to Lucifer himself. (He turns her down, since he likes his current gig.)
- In the first Ghost Rider series, Satan (who was indirectly responsible for the hero's creation) kept trying to claim his soul. At one point, he's thwarted by the intervention of a normal-looking man who just claimed to be "just a friend." It was heavily implied that he was actually Jesusnote .
- In one Justice League of America story, Neron and the Demons Three attempt to pull the moon from the heavens. Superman uses a magnetic field trick to put the moon in its proper orbit, but mentions that he had "help:" cut to an image of a giant fingerprint on the lunar surface.
- The Open Door has Asukhon adopt a mortal form to experience Assassin Corps training and comes out a lot more respectful of "these hard asses" taking the training.
- Played with in some Axis Powers Hetalia fics involving Nations and their countrymen. One in particular involved America fighting alongside one of his soldiers in World War 2... and meeting him again decades later as a dying War Vet.
- Played with in the Sherlock Holmes crossover fic A Case of Jerusalem wherein England is revealed to have been copilot to several British regiments just in the late 19th Century alone, including possibly that of Dr. Watson. He does get "reassigned" once his men grow suspicious of him, however.
- The Galaxy Rangers fanfic "A Christmas for Goose" has a Heroic Bystander named Chris Lamb step in to help the heroes fend off some crazy fundamentalists who consider the Artificial Human Goose a soulless abomination. The heroes hang out with him for a while, and he gives Goose a small charm of a lamb. It's only after Zachary remarks "behold, the lamb of God" that the Fridge Realization hits.
Films — Live-Action
Live Action TV
- In the Twilight Zone episode "A Passage for Trumpet," a depressed, down-on-his-luck trumpet player named Joey is persuaded by another trumpet player to keep on living and playing. Only at the episode's end does Joey think to ask for the helpful person's name. The reply? "It's Gabe, short for Gabriel" and as he says it, he steps under an overhanging light... that gives him a perfect halo.
- A character memorably portrayed by Burt Reynolds appears to play this role in the "love it or hate it" The X-Files episode aptly titled "Improbable."
- In the finale of Touched by an Angel, in Monica's final case, after failing to keep a wrongfully accused drifter from serving prison time and pledging to protect him for the rest of his life, the drifter turns out to be God in disguise, telling her the final case was her promotion test for Tess's job, and she passed with flying colors.
- Implied in the Season 5 finale of Supernatural. After averting the apocalypse, one of the last shots we're treated to is "The Prophet Chuck", who had unwittingly used his powers to write a series of books about the Winchesters, ending his last book with a soliloquy about how hard it is to write a satisfying ending. He decides that sometimes it's better if things don't really end per se, then smiles and disappears into thin air. Near halfway through the same episode, he is seen calling a "Mistress Magda," a reference to Mary Magdalene who is believed by some to be a) an adulteress/prostitute and b) the wife/consort of Jesus.
- Also played with mere moments before it's played straight. After Castiel shows up and undoes what little damage was done in "the final apocalyptic battle", Dean asks if he's God. His response is "That's a nice compliment, but no."
- In the final scenes of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, it's heavily implied that Starbuck is actually a being like Head Six or Head Baltar (who have claimed to be Angels in service of a God-like being who doesn't like to be called "God"). She was born to human parents and was largely unaware of her own nature/destiny for her whole life.
- On Twin Peaks, an ancient bellhop at the Great Northern Hotel turns out to be the host of the otherwordly, ambiguously-benevolent Giant spirit.
- The final episode of Ashes to Ashes reveals that Gene Hunt is a Psychopomp, Keats is (possibly) The Devil and Nelson the barman is some kind of Saint Peter-esque figure.
- The Stan Ridgway song "Camouflage" is about an American marine in Vietnam who gets rescued by a mysterious badass called Camouflage. When he arrives back at camp, he learns that Camouflage was actually the ghost of a recently deceased marine whose dying wish was to help out a comrade.
Mythology and Religion
- Also occurs in the Bhagavad Gita: the great hero Arjuna rides into battle with the god Krishna as his charioteer. Krishna then spends most of the story explaining the subtle philosophy by which the battle is justified, and most of it goes right over Arjuna's head. This makes this Older Than Feudalism.
- The concept of xenia or hospitality to strangers also occurs bunches of places in ancient Greek history and mythology, making it Older Than Western Civilization. Zeus, in particular, was notorious for showing up to people's houses in disguise. Those who opened the doors and gave graciously got some eternal boon for their trouble; those who kicked him to the curb got turned into stone, hit with lightning, etc. See also "Baucis and Philemon" for one famous example.
- In Hawai'i, there is a legend (notably similar to the Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts legend), where a woman appears by the side of the road. Sometimes she is an older woman dressed in white, sometimes a younger woman dressed in red. Either way, it's the fire-goddess, Pele, and it's a Secret Test of Character. Pick her up, and you'll be rewarded. Drive (or walk) by, and misfortune will befall you and/or those you care about.
- Manannan Mac Lir, Irish god of the Ocean, is rather fond of this trope. In "His Three Calls to Cormac" he appears to King Cormac Mac Airt as a soldier bearing a silver branch, and tricks the king into giving him his family in exchange for the branch.
- "The Churl in the Grey Coat" has Manannan aiding the Fenians in a footrace against a foreign champion for control of Ireland,under the guise of a brutish oaf. The oaf starts the race two hours late, manages to catch up to the champion, stops to pick berries, catches up again, only to realize he forgot his coat(seriously) and goes back, and STILL beats the champion.
- Finally, the story "Manannan at Play" is basically a patchwork of short stories about how wandering Ireland as a scraggly clown is a hobby of his.
- Over and over again in The Bible, people run into a supposed stranger who is eventually identified either as God or "The Angel of the LORD". (The resurrected Jesus also made a few appearances in this manner.)
- In Venus In Fur by David Ives, Thomas is suspicious almost from the beginning as to the identity of Vanda, or Wanda, this strange actress (or so she claims) who has by turn amused, awed, abused, revolted, seduced, tormented, dominated, and been dominated by him. How does she know everything she knows, including many things that should be secret? How can she be such a brilliant, versatile actress, able to ad-lib, at the drop of a hat, an entirely new scene, and an entirely new character, perfectly, in a way that vastly improves the play, and yet be such an apparent dolt when she speaks out of character? At the end, of course, she demands that he tell her who she really is, and he answers that she is Venus herself. As to whether that's literally true, well, the play is ambivalent.
- This happens with distressing regularity in Shin Megami Tensei. The Senate Elders in II are the Four Archangels. Sister Gabby in IV is the Archangel Gabriel, with Lilith as the Black Samurai.
- In Lunar: The Silver Star, Luna is revealed to be Althena in about the middle of the game. This also turns out to be the case for Lucia Collins in Lunar: Dragon Song.
- In Jade Empire, if you do several sidequests, find multiple items tucked away in obscure places, and a lot of top-down aerial shooter minigames, you travel to an odd heaven full of strange machines. If you complete the quest, you find out that Kang The Mad, a great inventor and the one who created the machine that got you to the heaven is, in fact, Lord Lao, an inventor god who was kicked out by the others for hubris. Also worth noting that Kang's party role is maintaining and flying the Global Airship, making this a quite literal example.
- The Neverwinter Nights mod Tales Of Arterra has the revelation of Evanine's heritage. Given the base ruleset having an angel rogue on your side would be much more useful than having an elf rogue. Justified in that she didn't know what she was either.
- In Breath of Fire III, Peco is really an incarnation of Yggdrasil, an implied rival of the Big Bad.
- In Breath of Fire IV, Ryu, the main character, is really an amnesiac newborn god.
- Ershin from the same game is revealed to be a suit of Animated Armor possessed by the goddess Deis.
- In the ending of The World Ends with You, Joshua turns out to be the Composer, essentially making him the local God. Also, Mr Hanekoma is revealed to be an angel.
- In Red Dead Redemption There's much, much more to the mysterious stranger from "I know you" than first meets the eye. What nature of supernatural being he is is debatable.
- In Shining Force 2 the good gods seem to abandon mortals at one point, your army end up going on and seemingly taking out a dark god on their own (along with other borderline godlike beings). At the end it is revealed that the good gods were helping you all the time, and just pretended to rebel to avoid being countered by the other god.
- Lufia in Lufia & The Fortress of Doom... although subverted in that she is an evil god. (And, well, she's a Super Being in the US, thanks to Nintendo's censorship policies at the time. But the same principal applies.)
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has a rather literal example. The cab driver who's been shepherding you around LA? Yeah. He's Caine. The first vampire. It's not made clear in game, but all his dialogue files are labeled "Caine," and if you play a Malkavian, your last conversation with him involves realizing just who he is and screaming in unholy terror.
- Then there's the fiction for the actual game line, dealing with The End of the World as We Know It. Beckett finds a strange vampire in a cave he's investigating, and ends up dragging him along for the ride as they investigate the signs of Gehenna. At the end of the novel, Beckett idly asks what Caine might be doing, and the stranger says that Caine would probably want nothing to do with the affairs of his childer and just seal himself away in a cave until the end times. Beckett's reaction: "Yeah, you're probably — oh, fuck..."
- As in the novel, the story of the game is mentioned to also have taken place, the cab driver is either not Caine, or Caine using one of the 10 dot "plot device" discipline abilities to make it happen
- Though most diehard Canonists of the Old World of Darkness would say the Taxi Driver was merely a Malkavian Impostor, in reference to a line in the Novel where it implies as such, along with others. Though if it's an impostor, that wouldn't explain why a potential Malkavian player character starts screaming and begging to be let out of the cab upon his Mad Oracle powers letting him know who the taxi driver is...
- In Xenosaga there's a very literal version of this: Chaos, who joins you early in the first game, is revealed to be Jesus (or more correctly, one godly-powered half of a two-person team: he provided the miracles, the human named Jesus provided the speeches). He acts as a literal copilot to not one but two other characters while using their mecha - first Canaan, in the opening to game 2, and then Jr., throughout games 2 and 3.
- Its Spiritual Successor, Xenoblade, follows this up with Alvis, whose apparent nature constantly changes throughout the game, from a mysterious enigma to just a normal "seer" to one of Zanza's disciples, until it's finally revealed that he's the true God of the universe, having formerly been the AI used by Zanza and Meyneth to create the universe while granting the two of them some of his power (which Meyneth could handle, but went to Zanza's head).
- In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, a seemingly minor character encountered at the Ghostgate gives the PC a "lucky coin" and asks him to take it to the Very Definitely Final Dungeon. This old soldier happens to be Talos, aka Tiber Septim, one of the gods of the setting, and the coin really is lucky.
- This also occurs with the Goddess Mara and the God Zenithar. Of course, they do show up mostly on the Oracle Quests, but still.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Morrowind's sequel, it's implied that the Prophet from the Knights of the Nine expansion is either one of the Nine himself or a reincarnation of one of their two creations, Pelinal Whitestrake or his brother, Morihaus. He also happens to have a strong family resemblance to Uriel and Martin Septim, and Talos was Tiber Septim. That the Prophet is just a Prophet is not a common theory, especially after Talos's previous intervention.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, one of the quests begins with you participating in a drinking contest with one Sam Guivenne that ends with you waking up in a desecrated temple in a completely different city. By retracing your steps, you find out that Sam is none other than Sanguine, Daedric Prince of Debauchery who was just looking for someone to party with.
- Ōkami has a rare protagonist example: Amaterasu is a sun goddess in the from of a white wolf. The player knows this from the beginning, however, most of the people she runs into don't and mistake her for a dog or normal wolf, as they can't see the flaming shield or the unusual red markings.
- Played Straight in Romancing SaGa, the very minstrel who tells you stories and legends about Mardias is none other than Elore himself, also possibly the Lich who bestows death's protection during the Soulgutter quest may be Death given that he knows about the true function of the altar on the Steppes of Galessa and how monsters are reviving Soulgutter, Even Sylvan; Claudia's wolf companion is Eres herself.
- Implied about the Fortune Teller that shows up at times when you send the Player Character shopping in True Love Junai Monogatari. If you unlock Anze's ending (MUCH easier said than done), the Teller is the one who re-introduces her to the PC; then, Anze refers to her as "Powerful One" and she quickly cuts her off and says she shouldn't reveal her (the Teller's) actual identity. This hints that the Fortune Teller might actually be another angel, or even a deity (Pobably the one who transformed Anze into a Cute Kitten as punishment for losing her wings, which you must purchase from the hidden shop to get the chance to meet Anze herself).
- Weaver, the author of Ruby Quest, manually simulated 4chan playing a graphical adventure game. Toward the very end, the protagonist was faced with a dilemma. One of the players asked for a hint. Weaver obliged with a simulation of a hint interface... which might have been in use the entire time!
- One Hitler Parody video reveals Günsche to be God, Hitler was not pleased.
- In Academia, Pasha helps a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo by Yo-Yo Ma to find a specific philosophy book, unaware that Mr. Ma is actually an angel.
- Gargoyles had Owen Burnett as an avatar of Puck, something that apparently came as a surprise to the creators of the show themselves, who before that had not figured out the character's secret, though The Reveal is set up such that it seems like they always planned it that way.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, it was originally going to be revealed that Momo, Team Avatar's cute flying lemur was actually Aang's mentor Gyatso reincarnated to guide them. It was never included, though some fans keep it as head-canon.
- The Stone of Cold Fire, one of the many, many, many sequels to The Land Before Time, features two mysterious dinosaurs who periodically help the protagonists throughout the movie. The final scene implies rather strongly that they're angels.
- Or aliens.
- But that would be telling.