In Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, the young Miyo Takano, running away from her orphanage, starts yelling at God to either strike her dead or give her a better life. God responds by hitting the tree she's standing under with lightning. She gets to return the favour at the end of the series.
In Sora Wo Kakeru Shoujo, Tsutsuji Baba challenges God (or "fate") to smite her soon after landing on Earth. Nothing happens... and it fills her with overwhelming self-confidence. The whole scene may be a Shout Out to Higurashi above.
In Eisner's classic graphic novel A Contract with God, lifelong good Jewish boy Frimme Hirsch feels God has violated their agreement by allowing his adopted child to die. He rages at God while a storm batters his home. The lightning and noise seem to be God's angry responses to Frimme's accusations.
Part of the origin of the Blue Lantern Saint Walker. After reaching the end of a spiritual journey that cost the lives of his entire family, he demanded that God show him the Messiah. A lightning bolt illuminated his own reflection on a slab of stone.
Minor example in an issue of JLA. Plastic Man has just been called out by Batman for being a coward because he won't face his illegitimate son. After Batman leaves, the dejected Plas looks up and realizes he's standing near a billboard advertising Rubber Chickens. His reaction: "Rubber chicken. I get it. Good one, God."
Also appears in a dramatic context in The Truman Show, where Truman, realizing some personal force controls the world and has sent a storm to destroy him personally, shakes his fist in angry defiance. Notably, like in Bruce Almighty (but predating it), Jim Carrey, playing the protagonist, delivered the lines.
Embodied in Falling Down, where a run of particularly bad luck turns a blue-collar man into a domestic terrorist.
In the film, Hellboy gets an answer when his love, Liz Sherman, has her soul taken by... something. He whispers that if she dies, he will cross over to their dimension and get her back. And then they'll "be sorry". She's promptly resurrected.
In The Odyssey, based on the epic by Homer, Odysseus yells a challenge to Poseidon when, after 10 years of facing all sorts of obstacles at sea trying to get home, the sea god sends a storm that sinks his raft and leaves him floating on a log in the ocean. Since Poseidon really has been out to get him for 10 years, It's Personal.
Bethany has one of these scenes at a lake during Dogma when she discovers the truth about her mission. An angel promptly tells her that God (due to extenuating circumstances) can't hear her, but he sympathizes with her ordeal.
The title character in Coffin Joe has a raving episode during a thunderstorm, daring God to strike him.
In Forrest Gump, the embittered, crippled lieutenant Dan rides out Hurricane Carmen clinging to the mast of a small boat, challenging the lightning and waves to kill him. The twist is that after the storm, Dan thanks Gump for saving his life and promptly jumps over the side. Gump rushes to the side, convinced that his friend had committed suicide, but it turns out that he was merely swimming. Gump notes in retrospect that it showed Dan made his peace with God.
Occurs in Monty Pythons The Meaning Of Life: a military recruiter says, after showing a documentary film, "That is why we will always need an army, and may God strike me down were it to be otherwise."
Sergeant Major: ''Don't stand there GAW-KIN', like you've nevuh seen the 'and of God before!
Shown with an aftermath in Nightbreed, the film of Clive Barker's CABAL—A badly fallen priest is dragged along for the ride when the rednecks go after the Nightbreed, and when he manages to splash the Shattered God's transformative baptism over himself, he winds up in the ruins of the Breed's old home, reviving Cabal's nemesis and vowing revenge: "Their God burned me. I want to burn him back!"
The End of the Affair is framed around a "diary of hate" that the main character directs at God, who he sees as the main force coming between him and his lover Sarah. At the end of the movie, after seeing Sarah die shortly after resuming an affair that she promised God she would end forever, he curses God "as though (he) existed".
In Cool Hand Luke, the atheist subtrope is used, in the rain, during a thunderstorm.
The Poseidon Adventure: Here you have Rev. Scott (Gene Hackman) who has never lost his faith in God, who believes that the Lord loves people who can work it out themselves. He tries everything to help save his friends from the capsizing ship - resulting in the death of three, but he never turns a blind eye. However, when a steam valve is blocking the only way out, he finally snaps and tells God off while trying to shut the valve off. He dies right after but his effort saved the remaining members of the group.
Invoked in the remake of Scarface, where a restriction of jobs to kitchen duty turns a Cuban American into a drug kingpin.
And again in a profanity-laced version when he yells at his attackers in the finale during the mansion siege, just before he himself gets killed by an assassin behind him.
In The Lorax film, when the Lorax confronts the Once-Ler about the latter's big business at the expense of nature, the Once-Ler sarcastically asks why the Lorax simply didn't stop him with the 'nature's curse' the Lorax mentioned when they first met. The Lorax morosely responds "It doesn't work that way." Minutes later, the last truffula tree is chopped down, marking an end to thneed production. The Once-Ler's business goes down the pits, his employees abandon him, the Lorax just lifts himself away, and all the Once-Ler has to show for his efforts is an dilapidated house where he seals himself up for several decades until a random kid wanders by asking about trees.
The early SF novel The Gladiator (best known today for being one of the inspirations for Superman) ends with a note that Hugo Danner, frustrated with his the uselessness of his superhuman powers to improve the world, climbed to the top of a Mayan pyramid and began cursing at God; he was immediately struck dead by lightning, possibly the only thing that could have killed him.
In The Master and Margarita, or, more specifically, in the Master's novel about Pontius Pilate, Matthew Levi, angry at God for denying Yeshua a quick and painless death, screams: "I curse you, God!" He then expects God to smite him on the spot, but nothing happens. A storm does come, which causes the guards to leave and kill the crucified before they leave, providing, indirectly, a somewhat quick death.
On the Discworld, this kind of thing will get a quick response, because the gods are real, impatient, and trigger happy. As a Discworld bartender who services philosophers explains, "We get that in here some nights, when someone's had a few. Cosmic speculation about whether gods really exist. Next thing, there's a bolt of lightning through the roof with a note wrapped around it saying 'Yes, we do' and a pair of sandals with smoke coming out."
This works significantly less well on the atheist golem Dorfl, who, being ceramic, is not particularly vulnerable to bolts of lightning and regards them as a rather poor argument.
And then there's "Charcoal Abraxas":
"Gods like an atheist once in a while; it gives them something to aim at"
They actually appreciate the really angry type of atheist (as opposed to the philosophical ones mentioned earlier), since all that rage against them for not existing is almost better than belief and worship. Om, at the end of Small Gods, was favorably impressed when a character declared his atheism before the obvious incarnation of his god.
Simony: Don't think you can get round me by existing!
A priest who'd lost his faith in the Discworld Noir video game actually went one better than Simony, proclaiming that no god was deserving of mortals' worship or trust from the top of the dome of the Temple of Small Gods. Even Death said he was impressed by this performance, when he came to collect the guy after the inevitable Cluster Lightning Strike.
Rincewind once compared Twoflower's ability to attract mayhem to the lightning-attracting ability of someone standing on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armor and shouting "All gods are bastards!"
Happens to Lister in the Red Dwarf novel Better Than Life. First he is marooned on a strange planet covered with garbage, by himself and with no food. Then he is almost killed (and has his earlobe burnt off) by concentrated acid rain. Then it starts raining oil. And then he discovers that the planet is actually Earth, turned into a planetwide garbage dump. Then an earthquake cracks open the ground directly under him. This leads him to the conclusion that the planet itself is trying to kill him for being one of the species that trashed it, and he shouts to the sky "Do it, then! Come on - kill me!" A bit different to normal in that he doesn't get an answer until he desperately offers to rebuild the planet, at which point the earthquake stops and it begins raining proper water.
The ending of Cats Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut. After the entire planet is turned to Ice-9 and humanity is dying, the protagonist runs into the philosopher Bokonon. He asks him what he is doing, and Bokonon replies he is writing the end of the Books of Bokonon. The final sentence goes as follows: "If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who."
In The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, after a series of successively more bizarre and unpleasant coincidences, Dirk Gently spends a night on the roof of his house, shaking his fist at the sky and yelling "Stop it!" The neighbors complain.
This sums up Mau's feelings in Terry Pratchett's Nation when his island is destroyed by a tidal wave and leaves him sole survivor of his people. The fact that the spirits of the Grandfathers constantly shout in Mau's head telling him to perform ceremonies for the gods he's come to despise doesn't help. Daphne's father, as well, was angry enough at one point that he felt it necessary to grant God absolution.
In the catalyzing event of the Spider Robinson novel Very Bad Deaths, a serial killer thinks he's about to die and engages in a defiant harangue of God...and a telepath overhears.
In The Crow Road by Iain Banks, one particularly devout atheist demands that if god exists, he should strike him down, complete with much swearing and finally an attempt to climb a church. By the lightning conductor. In a storm. The result horrifies a religious witness, leading him to believe that the god he believed in was far more cruel and vengeful than he'd imagined.
Happens in the beginning of The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg. It's a bad year for the crops. Karl-Oskar and his wife have been working hard for six weeks to harvest the hay, but they still haven't been able to scrape together enough to get their cow to survive winter. Karl-Oskar throws a wisp of hay towards heaven: "If You've taken almost all our hay, why don't You take the rest as well!". Later, when a thunderstorm alights in their hayshed, the wife sternly reminds Karl-Oskar of his blasphemy.
Inverted in the Heralds Of Valdemar series. In the backstory to the Mage Storms trilogy, the violently theocratic Karsites abruptly clean up their act and sue for alliance with Valdemar after their deity, Sunlord Vkandis, takes it upon himself to actually answer an invocation during the country's annual high holy ceremonies... with a Bolt of Divine Retribution which incinerated the thoroughly corrupt high priest of their religion (and that was just for starters) This earned him the Fan Nickname "Vkandis the Unsubtle", although given the massive amount of corruption in the Karsite priesthood, it's probable that nothing more subtle would have solved the problem.
"I, Q, defy you to the last, and if you think you can stop me just by destroying the universe, I'm here to tell you you'll have to do better than that!"
The protagonist of Colas Breugnon, while normally on good terms with God, gets very angry when his grand-daughter is slowly dying from The Plague despite his desperate prayers, and tells God that in that case he'll ask "different masters" for help - he means a pagan ritual.
In the Book of JobSatan accuses God of unfairly favoring Job, and insists that if should Job lose his possessions, the human would turn instantly away. God grants Satan permission to divorce Job and his possessions (here including his family), and Job is eventually left wallowing in ruin in the streets. The book is spent at first by Job insisting that he is guiltless of any personal sin on his own part, contrary to the suggestions of his friends, though is later rebuked by Eliu (who also rebukes the friends for being assholes, mind you). At the end of the book, God himself steps down and, while he ultimately restores Job to double his wealth, takes a fair bit of time chewing him out, which provides us with the interesting situation of The Heavens Raging Back. Oh, and did you know this is considered the oldest book of the Bible?
As for his three friends, God also rebukes them, telling them that He'll listen to Job's prayers on their behalf.
Richard Wright's autobiography Black Boy reports a communist ordering the Lord to strike him dead. He uses his continued life as evidence against God.
Live Action TV
In the episode "A Single Drop of Rain" of Quantum Leap, Sam (who has leaped into the life of a con man who claims to be a rainmaker), does everything he can to help a drought-stricken community, to no avail. He spends time haranguing God before it finally rains:
Sam: I don't know who's runnin' this show. I don't know why I was chosen. I bounce around from place to place. I do everything I'm supposed to do, at least the best way I can, but I don't know how to do this one. I mean, you gotta help me. I figure you owe me, for a couple of times, anyway. You make it rain. You hear me? You make it rain!
One episode of the surrealist comedy show Upright Citizens' Brigade features Captain Lunatic, a police detective who constantly does this. At the end of the episode, he gazes into the Bucket of Truth, which has sent everybody else who's looked in it running away screaming, then looks up at the heavens and shouts, "Don't you think I know that?!"
In the second-season finale of The West Wing, President Bartlet has already had more than enough, and then his personal secretary dies in a random traffic accident. After buying her first ever brand-new car. After her funeral in the National Cathedral, he has the Secret Service seal the room and turns to the dais. He opens with "You're a son of a bitch, you know that?" and continues in both English and untranslated (and unsubtitled) Latin.
"Haec credam a deo pio? A deo iusto? A deo scito? Cruciatus in crucem! Tuus in terra servus, nuntius fui; officium perfeci. Cruciatus in crucem! Eas in crucem!" Eng.
Am I to believe that these are the acts of a loving God? A just God? A wise God? To hell with your punishments. I was your servant, your messenger on Earth; I have done my duty. To hell with your punishments! To hell with you!
Occurs in the Red Dwarf episode 'Waiting for God', in which an embittered and dying Cat priest does just this. The twist is, his 'God' actually is listening — Dave Lister, who has inadvertently been considered to be a deity by the Cat people over their three-million year history. He takes pity on the (blind) Cat priest and stages a 'glorious return' to persuade the priest that his years of suffering weren't in vain.
In the Highlander: The Series episode "The Modern Prometheus", Lord Byron climbs to the roof of a building, in the rain, grabs a lightning rod, and proceeds to harangue the Heavens.
The twist is that Byron is actually immortal, and that even if he did get smote, he would be fine a few minutes later.
Dean Winchester has taken to yelling at God after a bad day during Seasons 4 and 5. The only answer he ever gets is Castiel showing up.
Castiel had his moment in Season 5, calling God a "son of a bitch".
In Season 4, Jimmy Novak Castiel's vessel calls him out on supposedly abandoning him and his family when he gave him literally everything.
An episode of Penn And Teller Bullshit has Penn and Teller running around with lightning rods on their heads, challenging God to strike them for all the things they've said about him. Well, not Teller.
In How I Met Your Mother, Marshall has one of these at his father's funeral, where he thanks God for the comforting words of his father's message from beyond the grave. (It was a phone message found after his death that turned out to be a pocket dial (several minutes of dead air). But then it didn't.
Piper gets on of these in Charmed. She's dealing with small, invisible creatures who have tripped her walking to her car while Leo has been barred from seeing her, and she does this to the Elders, yelling at the sky that she's a good witch and to give Leo back. It works, eventually.
In one episode of The Red Green Show, Mike makes a bet that he can bring an angel to the lodge. When Mike arrives alone, Red mockingly dares the angel to smite him. Unfortunately, at that moment the “angel”, in actuality an enormous man, walks in. It turns out he is a member of the “Guardian Angels Society.”
In "Good Times", James jokingly gives God sixty seconds to smite him. While Florida begs him to stop, James counts down the seconds on his watch. Which stops with a few seconds left.
This was the meaning behind the song "Prayer" by Disturbed.
"A conversation with the idea of the God that common Judeo-Christian theology would have you believe in. If God truly inflicts vengeful acts of pain and suffering upon its creations as a sort of temper tantrum in order to elicit a response, then bring it on."
Just a mile or so away, Is my dearest friend in the world. He wears the blue and I the grey, And God, it hurts me so. The last time we were together, I grabbed his hand and I pledged: "If I ever draw my sword on you, May the good Lord strike me dead!"
It's not quite the same thing, but a Peanuts strip had Linus doing one of his annual Halloween vigils in the pumpkin patch, beseeching the Great Pumpkin to show himself, vindicate his faith, etc. In his frustration, he finally blurts out, "Show up, stupid!"...then clamps his hands over his mouth in horror.
In Prickly City, Winston demands "Why?" on a cliff. (Answer: "Why not?")
The title character of Tosca suffers a Break the Cutie ordeal at the hands of Scarpia, the corrupt police boss and villain of the opera, that involves her lover Mario Cavaradossi. In the final stage of this ordeal, which has Scarpia forcing her to accept his namesake ultimatum to keep Cavaradossi from being executed, Tosca breaks down and tearfully asks God why he would do this to her, who lived only for art and love, and tried only to serve Him.
Religion and Myths
In Deuteronomy it is stated that "You shall not put the Lord Your God to the test", a line repeated by Jesus in the Gospels when being tempted in the desert by Satan. In context an inversion as its actually warning against being too dependant on God to solve your problems or, worse, putting yourself in danger and expecting God to save you; however, it still applies as a more general rule.
Some of the psalms, those written to express feelings of anger, fall into this category (although often with a desire to repent expressed shortly thereafter). Psalm 42, verse 3: "My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?"
The Book of Job references it, too — Job's friends, and eventually his wife, repeatedly suggest that he 'curse God and die' to end his suffering. He eventually does curse God... who comes down and tells him that mere humans have no right to complain, especially against the Creator of absolutely everything, whose ways he knows not. Job is humbled and repents, and in return, he and his wife get a new brood of children, gets even richer than before, and lives another 140 years before dying peacefully. The part here that everyone misses is that Job was still right and his friends, who told him he must be suffering for his sins, weren't; he was really innocent and God was just testing him anyway, as shown both by the backstory and God's response to his friends.
This is why The Flying Dutchman is cursed. Captain Van whatever should never have started cursing and swearing at God.
The trope occurs in almost every other Greek tale, with the petty Greek gods more than willing to comply.
Heracles, not one for big speeches, simply aims a weapon at the sky threateningly.
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan If I were a wealthy man?
Perchick: Money is the world's curse. Tevye (his face to the sky): May the Lord smite me with it! And may I never recover!
Probably the most famous scene from King Lear exhibits this trope.
Jesus Christ Superstar actually has Jesus doing this before the betrayal, trying to figure out why God's plan involves his death. Whether or not God answers or Jesus just gives up isn't entirely clear.
Medea begins with Medea's servants and the townspeople discussing how pissed off she is, interspersed with the sounds of her screaming at various gods from inside her house.
Come, flame of the sky,
Pierce through my head!
In the second God Of War, right after the last Spartan dies in Kratos' arms, the broken warrior stands up and challenges Zeus, screaming to the heavens to come down and face him directly if he's so strong. Zeus' answer? The Kraken emerges out the water and attacks Kratos. Kratos is actually so angry he ignores the Kraken entirely at first, still ranting and raving at Zeus, until it grabs him.
And at the end, facing straight up. This time, the odds are tipped even more in his favour.
Ingway in Odin Sphere ends up begging the heavens to kill him if the player uses Mercedes to fight the beast of Darkvoa, resulting in her death in Ingway's arms.
In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, an NPC in Kolima claims that they've had some hard times, but they're still around despite the multiple catastrophes befalling the village (including a giant lizard attacking the roots of their village, causing their main source of income to wither away (a leaf giving pleasant dreams that now gives nightmares), and being all turned into trees). Despite this, he still yells "Hear that, curse? WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU GOT?!"
In Discworld Noir, Mooncalf goes mad with guilt and renounces all gods while standing on the roof of the Temple of Small Gods during a thunderstorm. Even Death himself admits that he went in style.
In Avatar: The Abridged Series episode 7, Sokka, after the others decide to piss away the money he had nearly gotten killed earning, yells "if there is anyone up there, strike me down right now!" and gets promptly attacked by a turducken.
Dragon Ball Abridged has Freeza mocking Goku's declaration that he's evil, declaring that if he's really that evil, God should strike him down. A lightning bolt strikes Freeza... who promptly laughs and tells God to put some oomph into his next try.
In the webcomic It's Walky!, a distraught Joyce, unable to reconcile her Fundamentalist beliefs with the events of her life shouts out at the heavens, then in a fit of inspiration (or insanity, or both) takes up the Power Booster Rod and goes out to seek out God for answers... or rather, the nearest equivalent, the immortal being known as The Traveler (AKA The Cheese), who is completely dumbfounded that she would think he could give her an answer.
Played for laughs in thisSluggy Freelance strip, where eating a mutant fly gives a frog human level intelligence.
Frog: "Good job, God! Granting self-awareness to something that lives in the plumbing! That's disturbed, man!"
Said frog now runs Hereti-Corp...
This sparks the plot of Fur Will Fly—the protagonist dares God to make his day even worse, and is immediately teleported to a Mirror Universe. Subverted in the end, however, as his life actually ends up getting better as a direct consequence... eventually.
The titular character of Vexxarr considers the creation of a robotic version of Spoorflix this.
Vexxarr: Well, that settles one theological question. If there were a god, we'd all be smoldering piles of ash right now.
Sean O'Cann of Survival of the Fittest has a 'word' with God. Over the course of V3 up to that point, his best friend, cousin, and boyfriend had all been killed, as well as it being very likely he would go the same way. Even God would probably have to recoil at the sheer ferocity of the verbal attack.
The Salvation War: Pantheocide has an interesting case of it being played straight. Humanity challenges Yahweh to smite them, and end up smiting Him instead.
Humanity gets smitten a bit first, though. For example: a bunch of extreme tornadoes and hurricanes, a 200-foot-tall monster cat, two cities nuked. Afterwards, when they find a way into heaven, they drop a nuke themselves, on the "Incomparable Legion of Light". Yaweh himself is killed by angelic rebels.
There is a chain email in which an atheist college professor stands on his desk and challenges God to knock him off. Finally, a student stands and punches him off, saying that God was too busy protecting soldiers in Iraq and sent him to do it. This event are generally acknowledged to be fictional.
Despite the Eastern mythology-based "spirits" introduced on the show, Prince Zuko has such a scene in the Avatar The Last Airbender episode "Bitter Work". After a day of failing to learn to bend lightning, on top of everything else that's happened in his life, he stands on top of a mountain during a raging thunderstorm and screams at... someone:
Zuko: "You've always thrown everything you could at me! Well I can take it! And now I can give it back! Come on! Strike me!You've never held back before! Aaaaaargh!"
The original purpose of him going up there was that he wanted heaven to literally strike him (with lightning), so he could put his newly learned lightning-redirection technique to the test.
He could be yelling in order to test said skill, at a higher power, at lightning (in reference to his fire-induced scroll), or at his father, a prominent source of unnatural lightning.
The scream at the end is out of frustration, because the lightning didn't strike him.
The above all being pretty accurate, the impression delivered was something along the lines of 'I have cosmic bad luck; the order of the world is always against me; now I'm using it for something and even that doesn't work; argh.' Which is kind of true.
There's a strong element of spirit destiny in the Avatarverse religion and no visible habit of believing in only some spirits and not the rest. Even if the Fire Nation's primary deity (for example) is the Sun, and there's a strain of agnosticism among people who don't have the spirit world crashing through their lives all the time like the leads. Zuko was probably addressing the universe/destiny/spirits in general, all of whom he believes hate him and ought to be willing to strike him with lightning now that he's made himself such an attractive target. (Except, of course, that's what he wants, so...)
In the South Park episode "Christian Rock Hard," Cartman and his band are being signed onto a Christian record label, and the heads tell him they want to make sure that his band isn't just in it for the money. Cartman replies, "I have never in my life done anything just for the money. If I'm lying, may the Lord strike me down right now." Nothing happens, but Butters scootches away, just in case.
In another episode, "HUMANCENTiPAD," Cartman gets angry after having his new present, the Apple HUMANCENTiPAD, taken away from him. He shouts at God to stop "fucking" him, which causes him to get struck by lightning.
Inverted on The Simpsons when Homer has a good day and says, "Oh Spiteful One, show me who to smite, and he shall be smoten!"
Actually, the good day caused Homer to quit attending church. The above quote comes from near the end of that episode, when his house caught fire, nearly killing him. He thought the lesson of the story is "The Lord is Vengeful!" and was wanting God to turn him into the instrument of His divine retribution.
Meg in Family Guy asks God to 'kill me now'. We then see God on a cloud with a sniper rifle... (he gets interrupted by a phone call.)
In another episode Brian and Stewie accidently embarass the Pope, who gets mad and commands God to "smite them!". Nothing happens, but he warns them that "He's a cooking up something!"
An unintentional example in one episode of The Boondocks, in which Uncle Ruckus begins a religion based on racism toward African-Americans, and telling the African-Americans themselves that they need to apologize for being what they are. At the climax of the episode, he shouts for God to strike him down if anything he's saying is untrue, though he fully believed in what he was teaching and undoubtedly thought he had nothing to fear. God, however, was more than happy to take him up on it.
Several years ago there was a guy who did something like this in stormy weather. Standing on a boat in the middle of a lake. He got a Darwin Award.
As part of his routine, George Carlin challenged God to strike the audience — and then himself — dead to prove that an Almighty exists. Needless to say, it never happened. Although he did report a small twinge in his leg.