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Anime and Manga
- The Four Gods in Fushigi Yuugi. They will grant their Priestess Three Wishes, but it's a Secret Test of Character. She has to use the wishes for the greater good, not for herself (even though she technically can.) The Beast God she summons begins to devour her soul, and will consume her completely, leaving her an Empty Shell if she is determined to not be strong enough. Also, many of her Seishi are Bishounen, but the Beast Gods really want her to be a virgin, because even though she has Virgin Power, she is in fact technically a Virgin Sacrifice.
- Evan Almighty. The beard example comes from there and is particularly jarring, given that it had no practical purpose whatsoever. Then there are the MANY birds entering Evan's office through the window.
- ...which, of course, is a sequel to Bruce Almighty, where the same God simply dumped all his powers into one guy just to show him how tough God had it.
- Depending on your views of The Bible, The Bible has stories very much like this - especially if you consider that many of the Christian values lots of cultures have now were novel - to say the least - to the people of that culture.
- "Adam, don't eat that fruit. No, not that one, that one is fine, that one right there."
- "Cain, Abel, take the best work you've done this year and set it on fire."
- "Noah, build a boat. A reeeeaaaally big one. You'll thank me later."
- "Abram, change your name and tell everyone in your family to start walking that way."
- "Hey, Abraham! Me again. Remember that son I promised you would give you a legacy of nations? Kill him. Then burn the corpse."
- "Moses, could you leave the family you've spent the last forty years raising, and go cause trouble for the people who chased you away as a murderer? Thanks, I appreciate it."
- "Joshua, go conquer that big citadel over there. No, no, don't try to lay siege or anything, just hold a parade every day for the next week."
- "Those are some very nice spoils of war, Saul, but no, you don't get to keep them."
- "Samuel, go wander around the hills for a while. I want you to appoint one of the people you meet there as the next king. I'll let you know when you find him."
- "Hosea, I want you to go marry a prostitute. Name all of your kids after my disappointment in Israel."
- "Saul, you know those people you were killing because they worship me? Change your name to Paul, then go tell them all about me."
- ...Yes. It's kind of a thing. Tended to work out in the end, though, at least when people listened.
- Justified in Small Gods, where the Great God Om lacks the power to do things in a way that would be at all convenient for The Chosen One, Brutha, because Gods Need Prayer Badly and it's gotten to the point where Brutha is the only one who actually believes in him.
- In Dragon Bones, the god Aetherveon takes possession of Cute Mute Ciarra, and uses her body to tell the other protagonists cryptic things. This causes Oreg, who tried and failed to protect Ciarra to suffer horribly note Ciarra's protective big brother Ward is not amused. But that's what you get for camping in the ruins of an ancient temple. Ward is angry at Aetherveon for quite some time afterwards, and refuses to pray to him out of spite, instead summoning Siphern, the god he usually worships, from his homelands. (Deities seem to be usually bound to a place in that universe, but as Ward proves, that is not absolute.)
- Peter Pays Tribute has a god sending Peter on a quest for the incarnation for sickness. With no directions, clues, or hints, either. Good luck on that one, Peter.
Live Action TV
- Joan of Arcadia. The title character had to, among other things, destroy works of art and re-take a test she had aced.
- Journeyman hinted that the character's time jumps were for a purpose. They were seriously inconvenient, and he could disappear when driving down the road, end up without clothes in snow, etc.
- Karma (well, the Theme Park Version of it, anyway) is portrayed this way in My Name Is Earl. Earl has to stick to his list, even when Being Good Sucks. Otherwise, Karma punishes either him, or people around him (such as a beautiful professor he had recently started dating).
- The ending of Quantum Leap showed this to be the case, as God himself, seen as a bartender, has been sending Sam on his jumps to fix mistakes in history rather than just let him go home. The final episode is kind of Him finally giving Sam a choice about whether to continue (considering the incredible amount of good he could do for the world) and offering him a chance at a personal do-over. Sam being the kind of person he is, decides to keep going, and uses his favor to go back and help Al hang onto his first wife, the love of his life.
- Daedric quests in The Elder Scrolls series of games can get this way. Kill a bull netch with a fork to please Sheogorath! Fake the apocalypse for Sheogorath! Cast a spell of mass disrobing at a dinner party for Sanguine. Commune with Boethia at his shrine (on the sea floor). Kill and soul-trap one member of every sapient race for Hermaeus Mora. You are not repulsive enough to worship Namira. The Shivering Isles expansion to Oblivion takes this to the next level as you travel to the plane of Sheogorath (where attempting to grow a beard attracts divine punishment).
- Godville: It's one option to continually bother your hero with commands, and probably the only way to actually get him to consistently do things you want him to. Still, being your only follower in a world where miracles run on prayer, he either knows he has the privilege to sass you back and abuses it, or is too dumb to be aware he shouldn't be talking back to his deity and does so.
- God and the devil in God, the Devil and Bob.
- Some theologians use this as a solution to the problem of theodicy. The existence of evil is something for us to overcome. Natural disasters and diseases and suffering are so that we can grow as people. It builds character.