Hear how they talk to us? (laughs
) The Gods. Listen pal, back in the day we were worshipped by millions. Dean:
Times have changed. Edward:
Tell me about it. All of a sudden this Jesus character is the hot new thing in town. All of the sudden our altars are burned down and we are being hunted down like common monsters.
Whenever a fictional story involves non-Christian themes, a western adaptation will emphasize the elements most familiar to followers of Christianity. At times, they will be totally rewritten to turn all of the members of the religion into direct analogues of Christian figures.
In mythologies without a "God of Evil
", the least likable deity (usually the one in charge of death
, or occasionally winter
) will be Flanderized
into such a figure who is a direct analogue of Satan
. Any depiction of the afterlife will be transformed into either Heaven
. The chief male deity will always be a stand-in
. Servants of the chief male deity may be turned into angels, or other gods will seem so subservient they may as well be angels, despite them being at each other's throats in most mythologies.
That is, it takes a real-life religion and turns it into Crystal Dragon Jesus
. May either be a form of Viewers Are Morons
or bad research, depending on how much the writers understood the original religion.
It should be noted that this has happened
a number of times historically. As proselytizing sects spread into new regions, they often incorporate existing beliefs into their canon, in order to make the new religion more palatable to others. For example, the medieval story of the hermit Josaphat (not to be mistaken with the King Jehoshaphat of Judea, or the 17th-century martyr St. Josaphat) was a Christianized version of the life of Gautama Buddha. Often, polytheistic cultures "converted" to Christianity simply transferred the worship of individual gods to the saints
that most resembled them (in some cases, the old pagan gods were remade into
See also Everybody Hates Hades
, Satanic Archetype
, Nuns Are Mikos
, Faux Symbolism
, The Theme Park Version
, Sadly Mythtaken
, Crystal Dragon Jesus
, Messianic Archetype
. Contrast Lowest Cosmic Denominator
and Church of Saint Genericus
. This will often include a Mythology Upgrade
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Anime and Manga
- Saint Seiya and its spin-offs suffer a little with this, since Hades is portrayed as a currently malevolent deity, and the Underworld he governs has little to do with the Greek underworld (sans Cerberus, Elysium, and the rivers); it's instead a rather faithful manga version of Dante's Inferno, which in turn was meant to represent the Christian hell. It is however mentioned that Hades used to have a friendly relationship with humanity, but lost his faith in humanity due to their constant sins, and disrespect towards the gods. His favor to Orpheus is mentioned in the series.
- The Marvel Universe version of the Norse gods follow suit, with Thor = Jesus, Odin = God, Loki = Lucifer, and Surtur = Satan.
- Surtur's portrayal is severely contrary to mythology, where he merely fulfills a cosmic role and barely has any personality; in the comics, he actively tries to bring about Ragnarok instead of waiting. The whole devil look and feud with Odin are exclusive to the comics.
- Kyknos, Ares's son, who wanted to build a temple out of skulls for his father and was killed by Hercules, is depicted as a traditional Satan-figure in the Marvel mini series Dark Avengers: Ares and later, Herc's miniseries. He has yellow-red skin, hooves, and very obvious, big horns on his head. In the traditional texts, he isn't described that way (which makes sense, because big horns would indicate a God of Woods and Animals or similar).
- In American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, Journey to the West is hijacked by Jesus up the wazoo. Apparently, the Monkey King and the monk's entourage were the Three Wise Men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus. Also, the numerous Heavenly Hosts who populate the story are angels or demons or such, and are all ruled by Tze-Yo-Tzun, aka He Who Is, one of the names of God. This is specifically footnoted. This was completely deliberate on the author's part: the blending of religions reflects the blending of cultures that produces Jin, and that he needs to accept in himself. The story is a very Asian-American story, and the author blended elements of Asian culture and American culture (including his own religion — Christianity).
Films — Animated
- Disney's adaptation of Hercules, featuring Hades as Satan, Zeus as God (and a Bumbling Dad), Hercules as Jesus, and the other Olympians as angels. To protect family values, Zeus's "special relationship" with mortal women was ignored, making Hercules a son of Hera, and poisoned (by Hades, of course) with mortality. This moves Hera out of her original Clingy Jealous Girl and Big Bad roles in the original myths. Interestingly enough, the movie does nothing to rectify Hera's status as Zeus's sister, however, outside of just not mentioning it. Hades was one of the few Greek Gods who didn't routinely screw with mortals or curse them, and could even be convinced to help them (Orpheus). Granted, kidnapping Persephone wasn't very nice, but that's probably the worst thing he ever did. And he was genuinely in love with her, at least. And it was a deal with Zeus as a way of compensating for him getting the short end of the deal (being in charge of the Underworld instead of Sky or Sea).
- This isn't the first time Hades' image was hijacked. Disney's The Goddess of Spring, a pre-cursor to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, made the merger between Satan and Hades even more blatant. The Nostalgia Chick gave her review going on in detail about how poorly this was handled.
- Disney did it again in Aladdin. Despite taking place in a Middle Eastern setting that should have been Islamic all the way (in fact, the sultan mentions Allah in the first movie, albeit as part of a throwaway line about stubborn daughters), in Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the wedding of Aladdin and Jasmine is suspiciously Catholic-looking.
- A more minor example is Chernobog from Fantasia; though named for and based on a Slavic god, he was at least once referenced as Satan by Walt Disney.
- Chernobog also shows up, as a euphemism for Satan, in the legends surrounding Slavic (especially Ukrainian) monasticism; Bald Mountain (Lysa Hora) is where witches' Sabbaths are held and Slavic legends often depict diabolical power being defeated by holy monks. It's an almost painfully accurate representation of a legend, just not an ancient one. The only inaccuracy is using a Latin Ave Maria rather than one in Slavonic.
Films — Live-Action
- The movie Constantine removes all non-Christian (and for the most part non-Catholic) mythical elements that were present in Hellblazer. In the comics' canon, John does have a certain "relationship" with Heaven and Hell, namely that they both get up his arse, and all kinds of other mythical entities exist.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is based on films from the 1930s, which commonly reduced various foreign cultures into caricature. In the film, the complex and sophisticated religion of Hinduism is reduced to nice people worshiping Shiva and murderous Thuggees worshiping Kali. The Thuggees behave like stereotypical Satanic cultists. The real Thugs, those who practiced Thuggee, did worship Kali, but no more so than the Ku Klux Klan worshiped Jesus. While they did tend to ritually murder people, it was by strangulation via a yellow scarf, not ripping hearts out of someone's chest. It wasn't just the British who worked on eradicating them. And, incidentally, Kali herself is Shiva's wife. Not the estranged kind, either.note
- Most mummy movies, including those of The Mummy Trilogy, portray gods such as Anubis and Seth as Expys of Satan. In reality, Anubis was a protector and judge of the dead and all round cool guy when compared to some of his sibling gods, while Seth was originally god of the deserts of lower Egypt-the legends of his scheming and murder of Osiris is a later myth. In fact, the statues found next to Tutankhamun, called Shabts, would be more appropriate. Of course, while it's true that Anubis was considered a kindly protector whose main concern was making sure souls made it safely to the afterlife, he's also the guy who checked if your soul was worthy of the next life and tossed it to Ammut as a snack if it wasn't... In this way, he is more like the Christian God than Satan, as on Judgement Day, he is supposed to throw all sinners into the Lake of Fire.
- In the movie version of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Hades is, once again, a villain though not the Big Bad. Who is apparently portrayed as a fiery devil-creature, though that's just his favored form. The Hades from the book version seems to be this trope at first, but Ares is the real villain.
- The new Clash of the Titans: Hades is the bad guy in the remake. However, at least the writers tried to provide some form of justification in that in this version of events, he was tricked into taking control of the underworld by Zeus. The blow is further softened by virtue of the fact that the rest of the gods are generally portrayed as all around dicks, particularly since the story of Medusa's origin is told as the "Poseidon raped her and Athena punished her for it" variant. On the other hand, it then turns Zeus into Jesus by having him bring Io back from the dead, despite the fact that only Hades can raise the dead. To make matters worse, it essentially makes Zeus an Expy of the Abrahamic God by having him be the creator of mankind, when in reality — or mythology, really — it was a Titan called Prometheus who created man from clay. This is where the subtitle of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein comes from.
- It is worth noting that this is due to Executive Meddling. Word of God has said that in the original cut of the film (the ending of which is online), Zeus stayed a dickhead and it was Apollo who offered Perseus the place on Olympus, which gave a third God a somewhat significant role, and the others at least got speaking roles. Plus Zeus didn't resurrect Io.
- Of course, it's also worth noting that it was somewhat subverted in the original film, which Hades was barely in (if at all). Zeus is a bit of a father figure to Perseus... but because he actually was his father (as a result of him having an affair with King Acrisius' daughter), and he's not depicted as Evil, but he's certainly not Jesus in the usual sense.
- Though not totally hijacked, the live-action film The Last Airbender incorporates Christian themes into places the TV show did not, notably, the use of crosses. Aang, an Airbender whose culture is based on Tibetan Buddhism, has his trademark arrow tattoo changed to resemble a cross.
- In Gunga Din, the villains are worshipers of Kali, who is described as "The goddess of blood," who smiles at warfare, torture, and human sacrifice. Her cult is a Religion of Evil that murders indiscriminately, as many as thirty thousand people per year! To rub in the salt, the movie is prefaced with a line saying that the depiction of her and her worship is "based on historical fact." While Kali does have a terrifying aspect (a necklace of skulls and hands full of weapons, granted, is pretty alarming), she is just another aspect of a greater feminine deity, and her realm is time and natural change as much as righteous destruction.
- In The Legend of Hercules, Hercules is not conceived through Zeus having sex with his mother Alcmene while disguised as her husband. Hera herself appears to Alcmene to tell her that she can become the mother of Zeus's son who will deliver the land from evil. Alcmene allows it, Zeus wills her to be pregnant and Hera names the son Hercules.
- Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain novels, set in a fantastic version of Wales, used Arawn, the Celtic god of the underworld, as an evil force similar to Tolkien's Sauron. The existence of an ultimate force of good, on the other hand, isn't really mentioned.
- Unless you count the Sons of Don. You could make a pretty good parallel between Gwydion and Jesus in The Book of Three.
- He also, at least, acknowledges that Arawn is "considerably more villainous" in his version, so at least he's aware of the situation.
- It's worse than that. Arawn isn't "the Celtic god of the underworld," he's a Welsh character who is king of an Otherworld. He has no negative characteristics in the original tale.
- In Wielding A Red Sword, from Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, the Hindu protagonist equates Satan with Shiva... who is supposed to be a highly positive force of rebirth and renewal.
- Michael Chabon's novel Summerland is a real doozy. It takes place largely in a world that cheerily mashes together Native American and Norse Mythology. This leads to the reveal, utterly brain-breaking if you know your mythology, that Coyote Changer is also Loki AND the Devil. Seriously. (And for its next trick, the rules of the Universe are based on those of baseball.)
- Believe it or not, the Cthulhu Mythos fell prey to this very early on, as August Derleth, who arguably rescued HP Lovecraft from total obscurity, attempted to shape the Mythos into a coherent Shared Universe, in an essay, framed it as a struggle between a good and evil pantheon, the former represented by Nodens, an actual minor deity from real life mythology, who had a cameo in one of Lovecraft's stories. This did not catch on.
- Note, however, that there are still writers who like Derleth's idea of having two factions of gods fight each other, even if they reject the idea of painting those two factions as good and evil.
- In Lord of Light, besides the fairly accurate Hindu gods, there is also an obvious Jesus metaphor among the cast of deities. However, the hint that he's supposed to be playing Jesus is "well — there's an evil necromancer to the West".
- Inverted in Jericho Moon, in which the Hebrews' Yahweh is suggested to be the Canaanite pagan god El on a monomaniacal ego trip. Yahweh's angels, when their forms are revealed, turn out to be indistinguishable from the amorphous demons of Egyptian paganism seen in the previous novel.
- Subverted in The Lightning Thief, the first novel of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. When Zeus' master lightning bolt is stolen, the first suspect is Hades. Hades is believed to have stolen the master bolt in order to start a rebellion. As it turns out, the thief was actually the lead character's camp counselor, Luke.
- In John Milton's Paradise Lost, he informs us that the devils are future pagan gods.
After these appear'd
A crew who under Names of old Renown,
OSIRIS, ISIS, ORUS and their Train
With monstrous shapes and sorceries abus'd
Fanatic EGYPT and her Priests, to seek
Thir wandring Gods disguis'd in brutish forms
Rather then human.
The rest were long to tell, though far renown'd,
Th' IONIAN Gods, of JAVANS Issue held
Gods, yet confest later then Heav'n and Earth
Thir boasted Parents; TITAN Heav'ns first born
With his enormous brood, and birthright seis'd
By younger SATURN, he from mightier JOVE
His own and RHEA'S Son like measure found;
So JOVE usurping reign'd: these first in CREET
And IDA known, thence on the Snowy top
Of cold OLYMPUS rul'd the middle Air
Thir highest Heav'n; or on the DELPHIAN Cliff,
Or in DODONA, and through all the bounds
Of DORIC Land; or who with SATURN old
Fled over ADRIA to th' HESPERIAN Fields,
And ore the CELTIC roam'd the utmost Isles.
- This was a common Christian explanation of pagan gods-that they were really demons in disguise.
- Part of the final plan in Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus involves influencing the pre-existing Mesoamerican religion in order to 1) eliminate the practice of human sacrifice, and 2) prevent religious conflict when they come into contact with Renaissance Christianity. The basic gist of how they pull it off is to introduce a new prophet that tells the natives to look for a people across the sea who have discovered a divine figure whose blood-sacrifice permanently sates the requirement for human sacrifice.
- When dealing with Ancient Greece in The Knight's Tale, Chaucer is mostly accommodating of the fact that they were pre-Christian, but does have some small slips like having them observe Sundays.
- The titular Julian, trying to revive Hellenistic paganism, realizes that this is his biggest problem. The Christians have brought in the masses by incorporating their holidays.
- Although most of the gods being jerks was inherent in the premise, the universe of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess was strange about this depending on the situation, especially Ares, who tends to waver between being a Jerkass and being pure evil depending on the needs of the plot. Hades was usually treated as just a dark but very overworked and unappreciated ruler of the Underworld. Eventually, the producers of Xena seemed intent on making up for lost time; in the last two seasons, the prophet Eli was an exceedingly thinly disguised Crystal Dragon Jesus and Xena was put on a quest to kill all the Pagan gods.
- A darker metaphor occurred with Dahak. Early appearances and descriptions to his cult sound like an analogue of early Christians, before we found out he was an unrelated evil god. Ironically, the references are kept and added to afterward to deliberately creep out the audience. Dahak derives from Azhi Dahaka, of course.
- The Doctor Who story Pyramids of Mars portrayed the Egyptian god Set/Sutekh as a Satan-type — and a Sufficiently Advanced Alien to boot, though a Physical God capable of destroying planets. However, the Doctor implied that Sutekh's people might not strictly count as good guys, either.
- The depiction of Hecate in Charmed. "The Wedding from Hell" pretty much reduces an In Name Only use of Hecate's name without ever using enough of the mythology that it was ever a "depiction of Hecate". Which still makes it a Hijacked by Jesus, since Hecate is certainly not this kind of generic evil goddess.
- Stargate SG-1 at various points:
- An arc theme in the series is the slow discovery of the Jaffa that their masters the Goa'uld are not gods, but tyrants posing as gods. All well and good, but a big part of it is usually the discovery that the Goa'uld are not omnipotent or omniscient (for example, when Teal'c disobeys Apophis behind his back and finds Aphophis does not know about it) — even though those traits were never associated with the pagan gods the Goa'uld play the roles of.
- Possibly justified, in that the Goa'uld were arrogant enough to have added those traits to their claims on godhood after adopting the names and personas of pagan figures.
- In one episode, SG-1 come upon a small population of people who had developed from ancient Norsemen (Vikings, if you will) into what was basically a 17th century society. Instead of retaining their original pantheon, they had developed a cult centering solely on Freyr who, in reality, was of course the Sufficiently Advanced Alien responsible for bringing them there in the first place. Notable features of this cult included gathering in a suspiciously church-like building at regular intervals, branding Freyr their "savior", and the complete and total resignation to the will of their deity. All in all, it reads more like an attempt by the writers to use an "uncooperative, xenophobic, holier-than-thou, super-religious rural Christian" stereotype without running the risk of offending any Christians.
- Interestingly, the people of the previous Norse planet worshiped only Thor.
- In another episode, the team found a transplanted medieval Christian village, where Sokar was posing as Satan. And it wasn't the only time parallels were drawn in universe between the two, who had even less in common than Hades and Lucifer.
- The History Channel apparently once had a series called "Clash of the Gods." The episode about Hades was pretty accurate until about halfway through this part. It may be based on some beliefs (Hades was of course not depicted as a god, but as a servitor of Ol' Scratch) that became very popular, as seen in The Divine Comedy.
- The series in general tends to draw a lot of analogies between pagan myths and Biblical stories, whether or not there's any actual historical connection between them.
- The show has also inverted this on occasion; the episode on Zeus draws parallels between Zeus being seen as the highest, most powerful god and the rise of monotheism, basically saying that Zeus was the source of most people's idea of the Abrahamic God.
- An interesting variation took place in a Christmas Episode of Northern Exposure, where the town of Cicily combined Christmas traditions with the local tribe's "Raven Festival", based on the story of Raven and the Sun-Holder's Daughter. While this is a traditional Raven story among some tribes and the depiction in the show is fairly accurate, it does make Raven seem like a Crystal Dragon Jesus. In one of the few points where Joel's receptionist Marilyn Whirlwind spoke more than a few words at a time, she told the story to Joel:
"A long time ago, the Raven looked down from the sky and saw that the people of the world were living in darkness. The ball of light was kept hidden by a selfish old chief. So the Raven turned itself into a spruce needle and floated on the river where the chief's daughter came for water. She drank the spruce needle. She became pregnant and gave birth to a boy which was the Raven in disguise. The baby cried and cried until the chief gave him the ball of light to play with. As soon as he had the light, the Raven turned back into himself and carried the light into the sky. From then on, we no longer lived in darkness."
Mythology and Religion
- Origins of various words meaning Christian God in different languages predate Christianity. Theos, Deus, Dievas, God, Allah, etc.
- If you ask Jews, of course, Christianity itself is this, with their religion.
- The Jews, in turn, did this with the gods of competing peoples, identifying the other nations' tutelaries with demons.
- Inverted during the Enlightenment, when Ashkenazi Judaism adopted many elements of Christian liturgy in an effort to modernize.
- The Roman winter solstice festival and the Celtic/Norse Yule were taken over by/merged with Christmas.
- Many concepts from ancient Chinese religions and philosophy were absorbed into Christianity by the Jesuit missionaries when they began arriving in China in the 16th century. Among others, they equated the Chinese concept of the "Heaven," (or Tian, 天) an abstract, all-encompassing supreme entity in the universe, to the Christian notion of God. This still manifests itself in the difference in the reference to "God" in Chinese and Chinese-influenced languages (e.g. Korean) by Catholics and Protestants. For Catholics, God is "the Lord of Heaven," (or Tianzhu, 天主), while Protestants use different terms in different countries, depending on circumstances.
- In some sense, a large chunk of Islam is this to Christianity. Indeed, Jesus is himself a great prophet of Islam and the Gospels (called Injil in Islam) are considered an Islamic Holy Book (which is, incidentally, why it would not make sense for a good Muslim to burn a Bible in response to a fanatical Christian burning the Koran). The Islamic interpretation is that Christianity is based on misinterpretation of Jesus' teachings, who was really preaching about (to oversimplify) another, greater prophet to come (in the person of Mohammed).
- Among others, Islamic eschatology holds that, in end times, it will specifically be Jesus Christ who will be returning to judge the living and the dead!
- Christian missionaries in Southeast Asia also Christianized Islamic terms. Many Southeast Asian Catholics in Malaysia and Indonesia refer to God as Allah, despite the term being foreign to this region (so do Christian Arabs, but, to them, the word Allah is their own native language that has been used for centuries even before the rise of Christianity and Islam, not an imported term). This was due to efforts by the 16th century Jesuit missionaries who deliberately used the term Allah to refer to the Christian concept of God. This became controversial in Malaysia at various times when the government sought to forbid use of the term Allah by non-Muslims.
- Older Than Print: Norse Mythology has been influenced by Christianity in several ways, which is often taken even further in works that draws from the myths.
- It's often believed in the scholarship of Norse Mythology that Loki was the pretty standard Trickster Archetype found in about half the tales, not the sudden betrayer of the gods/Satan analog that shows up partway through Snorri Sturluson's writing. Loki may have even been an aspect of Odin.
- On the other hand, the Lokasenna, in the Poetic Edda, is generally considered to preserve largely pre-Christian sources, and depicts the precise same betrayal.
- Since the ancient Norse never wrote their myths down, the earliest written documents were attempts to Christianize the heathens, by turning the Norse gods into a Christian pantheon, by making the gods out to be demonic, or simply by calling them clever mortals. The portrayal of the gods in Gesta Danorum is a transparent example of the latter.
- Odin's self-sacrifice to gain knowledge (by hanging himself on the World Tree for nine days) bears a striking resemblance to the Crucifixion.
- Norse mythology also influenced Christianity. Hell itself gets its name from the death-goddess Hel, Queen of the Dead.
- Also, at the time the Nordic world was Christianized and the inevitable repression started to come down hard on old-time believers, the symbol of the cult of Thor - a stylized hammer - could so easily look like a cross with a minimal upper vertical. Thor-believers could therefore wear this openly and look, at first glance, like a devout Christian wearing a cross. And vice-versa, in areas where the Old Religion held out longest and Christians were not welcomed.
- It has been claimed that the story of the Holy Grail and the Spear of Destiny are likely Christianized versions of older myths. For example, the Fisher King is BRÂN THE BLESSED!!!
- In one theory (but by far not the most popular one, not that there is a most popular one), King Arthur was originally a Celtic hero-king which doomed the old "England" because he first got the power of the holy vessel (more likely a cooking pot, later grail) and dug up the head of Lug in Lugdunum — that way, he broke the spell protecting his country.
- One of the less-known stories in the Finnish national epic The Kalevala is the story of Marjatta, a virgin who is impregnated by a lingonberry (no, not that way, she eats it). She gives birth in a stable to a son who becomes the king of Karelia. Seeing that all the stories in The Kalevala were collected in early 1800s, this just can't be coincidental. It's likely that it was made up by Elias Lönnrot who collected folktales and songs into a unified national epic, and cut out the most contradictory bits, and added things here and there to tie events together better. It was supposed to symbolize Christianity overtaking the pagan beliefs, as the god-hero Väinämöinen is forced to leave the lands after first trying to condemn the child to death. Interestingly, though, Väinämöinen vows to return when people once again have need for him.
- Parodied in Finnish comic artist Petri Hiltunen's Return of Väinämöinen newspaper strips, where he reveals in embarrassment that he decided to leave when people started to look more closely to the whole "lingonberry"-bit.
- The god Endovelicus from the Lusitanian Mythology, originally a quite well-loved god of health and light and eventually incorporated into the Roman Pantheon, became identified as Lucifer once Christianity settled in. This is quite weird, considering most people back then had the Light Is Good trope taken very seriously, and yet the opposite was what was implied, as both Lucifer and Endovelicus were firmly light aligned (Lucifer means "light wielder"). Note that the god Neto from the same pantheon followed Light Is Not Good more closely, though.
- The Iroqouis. Their creation story had Sky Woman falling to the Earth, with the animal spirits making Turtle Island for her to live on. She gives birth to Lynx, who in turn has the twin boys Sapling and Flint, all of whom shape the world. Then it got hijacked, putting Sapling as God and Flint as Satan.
- Celtic Mythology was not written down until after most Celts had converted to Christianity — as a result, gods were converted to kings and heroes, and millennia-long curses are broken by priests. It's all pretty muddy.
- Saint Bridget, a female saint who is suspiciously like the Celtic goddess, Bridgid.
- The Fair Folk went from... The Fair Folk, who were all right if you didn't offend them, to evil spirits who couldn't stand church bells/crosses/a priest.
- The myth that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland is dodgy as history, as Ireland has never had native snakes. However, an old Celtic God of death and afterlife was Cromm-Cruach, usually described as serpentine. The legend is probably a dramatisation of Christianity's victory over the old religion, symbolised by the serpent-god who is defeated and banished by the Blessed Patrick.
- Syncretism in general is a fairly common phenomenon, specially when a new religion tries to expand in a new area and portrays itself as not really rupturist with but some "improved" or "accurate" version of whatever religions existed there previously. The Ancient Greeks and Romans immediately drew parallelisms between their gods and those of the peoples they conquered, and it's been pointed out that part of the iconography of the Virgin Mary in the Mediterranean area is drawn from classical fertility godesses, mostly Isis. In Mexico, the Spanish missionaries drew deliberate paralellisms between Jesus and Quetzalcoatl, the "good god" of the Mesoamerican pantheon who abhorred human sacrifice (while obviously preaching against those who were all for it).
- Many Christian converts were originally named after pagan gods, especially in the early church and in newly-Christianized lands—Acts of the Apostles records Christian converts named Apollos and Dionysius (known to Westerners as "Saint Denis"), and there are also saints named for the Greek goddess Demeter (St. Demetrius) and the Celtic Brighid (St. Brigid). Naturally, this was useful for converting those regions, as people could go by easy stages from "worshiping Apollo" to "venerating St. Apollos".
- The Christian humor blog "Stuff Christians Like" lampooned a phenomenon the author terms "The Jesus Juke": shoehorning references to Jesus or religion into any conversation where He isn't really expected.
I once tweeted about going to see Conan O'Brien
live and how big the crowd was. Someone wrote back, “If we held a concert for Jesus and gave away free tickets, no one would come.” Whaaa, waaaa.
- Scion Companion features an organization that are doing this in-world; they find young, inexperienced Scions, and convince them that their powers come from the Abrahamic God instead of one of those nasty pagan ones. Their goal is to drag all of the other gods into the Abrahamic mold, creating a "one true God". The book states they've already done this to a couple of pantheons (the Yoruba are specified). Given the closest we've seen to their ideal is one of the Titan avatars, their possible success is not portrayed as a good thing.
- Demigod also has Pan show up... and turn out to be masquerading as Satan. It's explained away as Pan's debauchery going Up to Eleven and deciding to play to this idea of a horned and hooved wicked being For the Evulz.
- Part of the Sovereign Host's success in spreading in Eberron is noted to be their ability to pull off Hijacked By The Host and integrate the traditions of minor religions into their own ("Oh, your ways are fine. By the way, we call Deity X of your pantheon Dol Dorn...").
- Of all things, Planescape had very subtle hints of this. The setting incorporated both fictional and real-world mythologies, including the deities of Hinduism and Buddhism (but not the Abrahamic religions). However, at least some of the factions were open to the possibility that all these 'gods' were fake, just powerful beings, and a single real god (or more) might exist above them.
- The series also favored the terms 'powers', 'celestials' and 'fiends' over 'gods', 'angels' and 'demons'. Given that this only occurred in 2nd Edition D&D, it may have been a response to moral panic about the role-playing game by Christian Fundamentalists in the 80's. Considering some of the other ideas Planescape brought in, however, it probably didn't help much.
- Tarot, interestingly enough, underwent an inversion of this trope, as it became increasingly associated with occultism in the 19th and 20th century. The most obvious aspect of this was the Popess and Pope (Trumps II and IV) coming to be known as the High Priestess and Hierophant, while the suits of Coins and Batons (which were already established in Italian and Spanish playing cards) were renamed Pentacles and Wands, respectively.
- In-Universe example: The King and I has the Show Within a Show The Small House of Uncle Thomas, in which Buddha is a very obvious stand-in for Jesus. This is part of the joke.
- William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale nominally takes place in pagan countries, where they consult oracles. The veil is thin enough that at one point they have a discussion of the doctrine of original sin.
- Shakespeare usually avoided this, though — especially as it allowed him to present suicide as honorable, so long as it took place in a non-Christian culture.
- Final Fantasy Tactics seems to do this with the suspiciously-Catholic-like church in Glabados concerned with the worship of Saint Ajora. As the plot progresses, however, the idea becomes the target of Deconstruction, starting with Cu Culainn as a Sinister Minister, and is ultimately subverted at the end of the game, when the nature of St. Ajora herself is revealed. Then it becomes either a Path of Inspiration or a Corrupt Church, depending on the individual closeness to the Secret Circle of Secrets of any given member of the church. It should be noted that this is not a Western work, but also that the Glabados church -is- the only game in town, so their brand of monotheism appears to be the norm.
- The main series of Shin Megami Tensei takes this very literally. When the Earth was young, according to Echidna and Mem Aleph, it was ruled by all sorts of pantheons with their own adepts and followers. At one point, though, the Abrahamic God grew in power and overthrew all others, casting them down into lower astral planes (Atziluth in the original stories, Makai in current continuity) and turning them (and their cults) into demons. For example, Astaroth is literally a corrupted and demonized form of Ishtar... while more "acceptable" pagan gods like Thor have thrown their lot in with YHVH, choosing to become mere lackeys in order to prevent their own destruction or similar literal demonization. Only when a breach opens between our world and the lower planes (the Demon Summoning Program, the Conception, the Schwarzwelt) do the "demons" get the chance to fight back to regain their old power.
- But likewise, many of the demons in the game are all aligned as their story would be aligned and are true to their description. Anubis, a god of the dead, is portrayed as a neutral good demon, not a chaotic evil demon as many would have believed, because that's not what his job was about. In the same way, while Demiurge was considered a god, the acts that he commited would qualify him as Lawful Evil, because he is not a good guy.
- The Valkyrie Profile series is based on Norse myth, featuring Odin, the titular Valkyries, and the rest of the Aesir, but also feature very Christian-looking chapels, crosses, and other such artifacts.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising: Does a similar adaptation of the Greek Myths as Disney's Hercules which isn't surprising considering the series is set in Angel Land. Hades is depicted as a satanic figure with no redeeming qualities, and the Underworld is depicted as Hell run by Always Chaotic Evil Grim Reaper figures.
- Class of the Titans can both avert and succumb to this. While Hades isn't presented as completely evil, his realm still looks like hell. Also, he seems a bit of a... girlish man. It's the voice. The other Gods may have their problems, they do some nasty things to mortals, but they're all still mostly good and Zeus' apparent, um, fooling around with others is never mentioned and his relationship with Hera seems healthy and strong. Kronos, the big bad of the series, is a close allegory to Satan, though, as he pretty much wants to bring about the apocalypse. Other myths and legends are shifted around and can either be really inaccurate or pretty damn close enough. Of course one must keep in mind, this is a kid's show.
- Hades (and occasionally Ares) in the Justice League cartoon was also painted as Satan, or a reasonable facsimile.