Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous
Whenever you see a demon, god, or someone or something else otherworldly you'd expect it to be easy to tell if it is a man or a woman. But when he/she/they has qualities of both
? Or lacks qualities of either
? Or can change from one to another
with neither being the confirmed default
? They are Otherworldly And Sexually Ambiguous.
There might be reasons why or how the demon, spirit, etc., is a hermaphrodite, can change sex, etc., be it either magical corruption, or the creators didn't want to give the character a definitive sex, so they made them ambiguous. Sometimes it's just a striking detail that reminds the audience that this individual isn't a mundane creature, and that the shape they're in now might just be A Form You Are Comfortable With
See also No Biological Sex
, Voluntary Shapeshifting
, Non Humans Lack Attributes
, and Ambiguous Gender
. May cross over with Shapeshifters Do It for a Change
Anime and Manga
- In Devilman, Satan is shown to be a hermaphrodite.
- Ashura, the god of war from RG Veda, justified as it's the result of a curse that will keep the Ashura clan from continuing, and he's actually treated as both male and female in the series. The English dub of the OVA series completely glossed over this and just called Ashura "Princess" leading to confusion in the west for a long time until the rest of the manga was translated.
- Apos from Mnemosyne, the Guardian of Yggdrasil. He's actually an intersexed man (that is to say, identifies as male), and it's suggested that he has both functioning sets of genitalia, given that he qualifies as both male and female according to the laws of magic in that world.
- The goddess Kanzeon Bosatsu from Saiyuki is a female-presenting hermaphrodite, as noted by the author in a between-chapters illustration.
- Aleister Crowley of A Certain Magical Index is a Historical-Domain Character who in real life looked like this◊, but in the series looks like this◊, complete with a visible bustline. The novels describe him as androgynous, so much so that he cannot be described as conclusively male or female, at least based on his looks.
- No Game No Life has Tet, the god of games (and, being the only surviving god, the de facto ruler of Disboard), who appears in the form of a pink-haired, pink-clothed, ambiguously-gendered child.
- Envy the shapeshifting homunculus from Fullmetal Alchemist. Androgynous to the point where they are always posed in ways that make it essentially impossible to tell if they have breasts. Their true form is a tiny slug thing, so they appear to be truly genderless. Similarly applies for Truth, who is often humanoid but a featureless version of the person talking to it, so its gender is impossible to discern.
- Alchemists consider a solar eclipse to symbolize god: A union of the male sun and female moon into a single perfect being. Father takes this literally by using the eclipse to summon and consume God.
- The angel that appears in the anime of Black Butler is capable of changing sex. So what appears to be two separate characters Angela and Ash are actually the same angel's male and female forms. The angel also is against the concept of beings being divided into separate genders, and goes so far as to fuse Ciel's parents together as some manner of constructed being for this purpose.
- Desire from The Sandman. Because they are the personification of lust, Desire can be a man, woman, or both, depending on whom the viewer finds the most attractive.
- In Miracle Man, the alien Warpsmiths are multi-dimensional, and ultimately genderless beings, who have sex in ways that defy anything resembling biology on Earth.
- Marvel's 3rd Loki (God of Mischief, Chaos and
Lies Stories) can change their apparent gender at will. They are this trope because their shapeshifting powers (unlike the 1st Loki's) are limited to aspects of their own personality, the very fact that they can do these forms shows that they're genderqueer. They also have the tendency to flirt indiscriminately.
- Satan in The Passion of the Christ is portrayed by a woman with a shaved head and a voice altered to sound more masculine in post-production.
- Tilda Swinton played the Archangel Gabriel in Constantine.
- Gozer the Gozerian, the Sumerian god from Ghostbusters (1984), in the final confrontation. The boys are surprised that s/he's a "girl", but clearly s/he is both.
Ray: It's a girl.
Egon: It's Gozer.
Winston: I thought Gozer was a man.
Egon: It's whatever it wants to be.
Peter: Well, whatever it is, it's gotta get by us.
- The Prince of Egypt portrays God as the burning bush with a primarily male voice (who's played by Val Kilmer, the same actor as Moses, possibly symbolizing how God is speaking through him rather than to him) with a whispery female voice layered into it to invoke this. The creators also intended to have a child's voice in there as well until it got nixed in production for sounding way more demonic than they intended.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, one of the faces of the Faith of the Seven, called The Stranger, is neither male nor female and signifies death.
- In Dragon Bones the god Aetherveon is called "he", but when he talks to the protagonist by taking over the body one of them, he speaks with a "voice that could belong to a woman, man, or child", and later changes voices, so it is likely that the gender is just assigned by mortals who don't have gender-neutral pronouns.
- Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away. Roze-Kattee, the God of Love and Madness, is a hermaphrodite with a hideous appearance: a humanoid covered with shaggy, coarse hair, blazing yellow-white eyes brighter than daylight and pointed ears.
- In The Dark Tower, the demon who had sex with Roland in the first book and raped Susannah in the third book could change sexes.
- In Good Omens, it is stated that angels and demons are normally sexless, unless they really want not to be. Both otherworldly protagonists take the form of human males, though.
- In Operation Chaos, succubi (female demons that seduce men) and incubi (male demons that seduce women) are actually a single kind of demon that changes its form according to whom it is attempting to seduce.
- In Neverwhere the angels are genderless, and are referred to as "it". "It" Is Dehumanizing is averted, however, as the pronoun is applied to one angel by another angel, who uses it in a perfectly matter-of-fact way.
- In The Dresden Files this gets lampshaded in Turn Coat; after losing a Curb-Stomp Battle to a skinwalker and wondering whether he should use "he" when talking about it, Harry asks Bob for the correct pronoun. Bob tells him that the question is irrelevant since the shapeshifter has no definitive gender, and afterwards Harry uses "it". Despite the genderless pronoun being justified "It" Is Dehumanizing is still in effect because the skinwalker is lacking in any sort of humanity or redeeming qualities.
- There is also some question about the correct pronouns to use concerning the Corpsetaker, who exists pretty much only as a body-jumping mind. Since the Corpsetaker seems to prefer taking female bodies, consensus has come down on female.
- The Reynard Cycle: In Carcosa, the robotic Lotos seller's voice is described as being neither male nor female.
- Mallory from Jacob's Ladder Trilogy exhibits physical traits of both men and women and the narration goes to great lengths to avoid gendered pronouns. This is possibly due to Mallory having a whole bunch of dead people rattling around inside the brain.
- The Ghost of Christmas Past from A Christmas Carol. In most adaptations, it's made either a woman or a small child (of either gender), but the book never establishes what it is, in any sense of the word. Indeed, it shifts and flickers in appearance constantly in the book, not just in terms of gender but also growing and losing body parts at random.
- Simon R. Green has used a number of these in his urban fantasy series, including an androgynous demon called up by decadent young nobles in the Haven stories, a self-fertilizing artificial Humanoid Abomination in the Nightside, and the omnisexualized Lady Faire from Secret Histories. The latter two both involved Dr. Frankenstein, who had a serious kinky streak in the Greenverse.
- Flinx is perplexed by the (lack of) gender or familial relationships among the furcots in Mid-Flinx, as Teal insists that they're not male, not female, and the young ones aren't offspring of the adult. In this case, it's because furcots are asexual Planimals "born" by budding from They-Who-Keep trees, as revealed in the previous novel Midworld.
Mythology and Religion
- The Metrons in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Arena" were like this; they had an androgynous appearance and wore a shimmering dress-like garment.
- The angels in Supernatural are genderless, and while they take human vessels, the gender of the vessel seems unimportant to most angels.
- Some of the demons in the Buffyverse are of ambiguous gender, though most of them are not. One episode of Angel has the gang meet Lorne's family and mistakenly assume his mother is a male, as she has a deep voice and full beard (and is played by a man).
- On Babylon5, the Centauri deity of sex was a fusion of male ("tentacles") and female ("receptors") parts.
- Doctor Who:
- The Sufficiently Advanced Alien|s Kronos in "The Time Monster" is referred to by male pronouns, as was his counterpart in Greek Mythology, and depicted in a masculine paper bird costume... er, humanoid bird form. At the end of the story she appears as a sort of massive shining woman and explains to Jo that she is whatever she wants to be.
- Subverted in "The Hand of Fear", when the Kastrian Eldrad regenerates from a severed hand into a glittering, androgynous female alien with a queenly bearing and claims of god-level scientific achievements, leading the audience (and even the Doctor) to read her as this sort of character. After the Doctor goes out of his way to take her in the TARDIS back to her own planet, we find out that he merely took on a tough feminine form because his regeneration was modelled after Sarah Jane, the first human he saw - when he is injured and regenerates into the male body which is apparently normal for Kastrians, he becomes a dull, thuggish, hollering idiot that the Doctor easily outwits. Sarah even tells the Doctor, "I quite liked her, but I couldn't stand him."
- Satan in Tarot Motifs is depicted as being a hermaphrodite.
- Although the Judeo-Christian God is usually referred to by male personal pronouns, this is more convention than canon. Several Biblical verses show God identifying with roles which western culture would generally consider feminine. Most languages (English included) do not have any gender-neutral personal pronouns and God was referred to as "He" because most societies in which the Bible was written were patriarchal.
- It's not impossible to find instances of medieval Christianity where people have visions of Jesus breastfeeding them, or other things that seem bizarre by most modern standards.
- Inari Okami, the Shinto God of fertility, rice, agriculture, foxes, industry and worldly success, is generally considered to be neither male nor female, though like YHWH, masculine or feminine aspects are often emphasized depending on the context and the region. This is true for many other Kami as well.
- Angels and demons in Christianity are sometimes considered to be sexless because they don't reproduce in Heaven or Hell and so would not need to be male or female. The Bible always refers to them as male, and "the sons of god," who are generally but not always thought to be angels, sired the Nephilim, which some say is evidence that at least some of them are actually male. It's generally not considered a important issue in Christianity, but is still debated.
- The Egyptian god Hapi is generally considered male (including having one or more wives), but is also pictured with breasts to represent his ability to nurture and feed people (he's a god of the Nile).
- Medieval legends had Horny Devils called succubi who raped men in their sleep, causing Nocturnal Emission, and incubi who raped women, which could result in pregnancy. However, under a belief that demons could not create life, later versions suggested that the two demons were actually the same thing—succubi had sex with men, collecting their semen, then changed sex to become incubi, using that human semen when they had sex with women.
- Not surprisingly, Dungeons & Dragons has a few, notably:
- Demogorgon, AKA the Prince of Demons, is a hermaphrodite. He also looks like a two-headed monkey with tentacles for arms.
- Malcanthet, AKA the Succubus Queen. Malcanthet uses illusion, pheremones, etc., to make herself attractive to beings of all species and sexes, but some know her true nature and seek her out for that.
- Elven deities
- Corellon Larethian is the leader of the elvish pantheon. He is known to appear in both male and female forms.
- Hanali Celanil normally appears as a female, but has appeared as a male on rare occasions.
- Labelas Enoreth can appear as male, female, both or neither.
- The gnome deity Urdlen appears as a huge mole that is neuter and sexless.
- The Book of Erotic Fantasy, a much-maligned Open Game License splat adding rules for sex to Dungeons & Dragons, has the deity of passion and lust as a hermaphrodite.
- Dragon magazine #34 "Choir Practice at the First Church of Lawful Evil (Orthodox): The ramifications of alignment". Several deities fit this trope: Cyrullia, who appears as a beautiful hemaphrodite, Slarsken Obel who appears as a man most of the time but as a women in matriarchal societies, and Demyuritas, who appears as a stunningly beautiful youth who can be either male or female.
- 1st Edition Dragon Lance Adventures supplement. The section "Gender and the Gods" says that it's not entirely clear which gender each of the deities is because legends speak of them appearing as either gender at different times. For example, Takhisis is said to appear as the female Dark Temptress or the male Dark Warrior.
- Role Aids supplement Witches. The Powers worshipped by Faerie witches can appear as either male or female. In their true form they are neither.
- In Eberron, The Traveler is said to be a shapeshifting god with no specific default gender.
- In RuneQuest one deity is either male (Rashoran) or female (Rashorana), depending on the myth.
- Warhammer 40,000. The Chaos God Slaanesh has a nasty habit of sending hermaphroditic daemons at people. Not to mention being one itself. By default, Humans speak of it as a god, Eldar speak of it as a goddess ("She who thirsts").
- Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, from Magic: The Gathering, a Planeswalker and Humanoid Abomination who specializes in bringing people's worst nightmares to life. Ashiok is confirmed by Word of God to be of Ambiguous Gender.
- Luna, the main moon-deity of Exalted. Female pronouns are used to refer to her, but given that she is the patron of Voluntary Shapeshifting and of Trickster Archetypes, she appears as male and female equally often (sometimes with aspects of both- she has appeared before as a heavily pregnant young man).
- Unknown Armies. The Mystic Hemaphrodite archetype is the embodiment of magick. It represents not just men and women, but other dualities as well: love and hate, war and peace, and killing and mercy.
- Accoring to Word of God, demons in Diablo are genderless. Diablo's description in Heroes of the Storm outright says his gender is malleable. Within the games, Diablo's physiology is based partly on that of its mortal host.
- Whereas the angels are always clearly male or female, as signified by their armor (and voices), demons are as likely to resemble a mass of spikey tentacles as any recognizable creature, and so applying gender to them is somewhat futile. Nevertheless, some are distinctly female (Andariel, Lilith, Cydaea, all succubi), which helps to explain how they were able to found a race of mortals by "comingling" with angels without requiring large amounts of Brain Bleach for the audience. What good these traits served before humans existed is another question.
- The Despair Embodied in Devil May Cry 2 is able to freely shapeshift between a male and female form, depending on its Weapon of Choice; the male uses a Flaming Sword, while the female brandishes a whip.
- Satan in the current art in the Shin Megami Tensei series has clearly visible breasts, despite otherwise being masculine.
- In Mega Man Battle Network, Serenade.EXE, an otherwise normal Net Navi, looks the part, likely to emphasis his/her "holy/angelic" feature (and not to mention his/her vast powers). Greatly enhanced in the manga adaptation.
- While all of the Daedra princes (a loose analog of Demon Lords And Archdevils, only with Blue and Orange Morality) from The Elder Scrolls universe lack a default sex, most do appear as one specific sex. Except for Boethiah and Mephala, who have both been described as being hermaphrodites.
- The Cloud of Darkness from Final Fantasy III takes on an unmistakably feminine form, but "she" refers to "herself" using the Royal "We", and as an undying personification of the Void likely has no actual gender or sex.
- Fire Emblem Awakening: Possibly Grima, who isn't referred to with gendered language that doesn't refer to Robin's possessed body in the Japanese version.
- Minogame from Hellsinker is a sort of artificial god and his gender ambiguousness is constantly brought up as well as being a hermaphrodite. He is as a result always referred to as a male for convenience sake.
- Eden in The Binding of Isaac, an alter-ego of the eponymous Isaac who gets randomly generated stats each time, and represents purity and possibility. While most of Isaac's alter-egos have a gender (some male, some female), Eden is explicitly stated to be genderless.
- Spirits and demons in Dragon Age don't really have genders. In particular, Desire Demons take on a distinctly feminine form, but this is only to appeal to potential victims, and two such demons are referred to with male pronouns.
- In MOTHER 3, the Magypsies, whose only "life goal" is protecting the Seven Needles and who die when the Needle they must protect is pulled off, are described in-game as neither men nor women.
- In Pokémon, extraterrestrial Pokémon Deoxys, Jirachi, Solrock, Lunatone, Staryu and Starmie are genderless.
- But it is subverted by Cleffa's and Elgyem's evolutionary line.
- Oyashiro-sama from Higurashi: When They Cry. In the anime it's referred to as male. In the sound novels, as female since they're talking about Hanyuu, who is female. Its statue is very gender neutral too, in a religious way.
- The Soulthirster, Exterminatus Now's equivalent of Slaanesh.
- Uryuoms in El Goonish Shive are naturally gender-neutral, being shapeshifters who reproduce by Bizarre Alien Biology, though those living on Earth often adopt (temporarily or permanently) the gender of their choice. Seyonolu (Uryuom hybrids) which are part human, such as Grace, can have a certain amount of gender-fluidity as well, especially if they can change sex.
- Word of God confirms that Grimm, the cat-spirit that possesses Catharine in Sister Claire only has a gender when it is possessing someone and should be called "Them" rather than "It" when by themselves. Also makes sense with later revelations that show that Grimm is an amalgamation of Shards that were once abused children, so Grimm really is a "them."
- Ghouls in Bloody Urban have physical sexes but a much looser concept of gender than humans, and Word of God says they also have reproductive organs similar to those of the spotted hyena. Shaz, the only ghoul who has appeared in the comics so far, is extremely androgynous and alternates between male and female pronouns.
- Tilda Swinton is this, and has basically made a career playing those sorts of characters.
- The medieval Templar order of knights was disbanded and its leaders burnt for heresy due to allegations they really worshiped such a demon, one Baphomet, whose statues and representations conveniently turned up for the trial depicting a horned demon with beard, breasts and an erection that would have pleased erection-fanciers everywhere. Allegedly Baphomet, or the qualities he/she/it symbolizes, are still held in esteem by some higher degrees of Freemasonry.
- The Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten IV, most famous for trying to change the nation to Atenism, is depicted in art with an unusually feminine figure, including wide hips; nearly every other Pharaoh is shown as a young, physically fit man, no matter what they looked like in reality. Some scholars believe Akhenaten was trying to invoke this trope as part of his religious reforms, while others think he just actually looked like this and didn't care if the artists showed it.