Sufficiently Advanced Alien
Now all it needs is some waternote .

"Any sufficiently advanced alien is indistinguishable from God."
— Paraphrase of Shermer's Last Law

You know the type. Sooner or later one shows up on every Space Opera or Wagon Train to the Stars. They're the alien being that can do anything with the wave of a hand (or tentacle, or tendril of energy). Sometimes they're hostile, sometimes they're benevolent, sometimes above it all or just... different, but regardless they can really cramp the style of a young, expanding race looking to make a name for itself on the galactic scene. Usually, though, they tend to just be omnipotent jackasses, looking for a cheap laugh. More often than not, they tend to be egotistical and haughty, thinking little of humans and "lesser beings". Sometimes you can exploit their sense of honor or fair play, or their desire for solitude, to make them go away. Or maybe you just have to wait for their parents to come and take them home. Unfortunately, you can't always get rid of them — just ask Jean-Luc Picard (and don't even get his colleague Capt. Janeway started).

If you have to use something that's recognizable to the viewer as a machine, you're not Sufficiently Advanced. (See Higher-Tech Species.) If you can just wave your hand and things happen, you probably are (visual machines are allowed for really big effects, like making galaxies explode or transporting a planet from one side of the galaxy to another). If you are a machine, there's some wiggle room (and some overlap with Deus Est Machina).

What actually separates Sufficiently Advanced Aliens from genuine gods can get a little vague, especially with the likes of the Ori, or for that matter Q, who do claim to be deities, or, for that matter, Juraian royalty, who don't, but are. Usually, being found in space and/or opposing the heroes' lack of belief is considered enough reason to reject their claims. One possible distinction between the two is that gods are believed by their followers to actually be above the laws of physics (though there are plenty that aren't), whereas sufficiently advanced aliens have just figured them out enough to manipulate them to their favor (and again, plenty of exceptions there, too).

Sometimes, they'll show up to put Humanity on Trial. Occasionally, a human or humanoid alien will be assumed into their ranks. Often these beings will claim to be "more highly evolved" than humans, and that someday, if we're good little corporeals and eat all our vegetables and overcome our stupidity and bratty ways, we might grow up to be like them. Similarly, many sufficiently advanced alien species are also Perfect Pacifist People.

See also Great Gazoo and Energy Beings. When humans are treated like this, it's Humans Are Cthulhu or Thank the Maker. Conversely, if these beings are far enough removed from human understanding, they can be considered Eldritch Abominations, in which case they at least have the decency to take on A Form You Are Comfortable With.

Compare to Higher-Tech Species, when the aliens are more advanced, but not quite Sufficiently Advanced to count as this. Contrast with God Guise and Ancient Astronauts. See also Physical God, for an approach from the other side of the spectrum, and No Such Thing as Space Jesus, which is how stories of this ilk avoid the theological implications of the trope. Naturally, they are nothing like the Insufficiently Advanced Alien.

For when humans try - but fail - to deal with them and their frustratingly condescending attitudes, which can often be deadly, see Can't Argue with Elves. When humans can get the better of these beings, which is difficult, but not impossible, see Screw You, Elves!.

Very frequently they are builders/users of Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology.

If you want to go and try to compare these alien heavyweights, then you are Abusing the Kardashev Scale for Fun and Profit.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Golden Tribe of Heroic Age. They were reputed to be able to create planets and predict the future (though whether these tasks required the use of machines or not is never explained), and are treated as gods by the Silver Tribe.
  • The enemies of a Mazinger Z spin-off (Z Mazinger) were aliens so powerful and so technologically advanced they were mistaken by gods in the past.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the giant monsters attacking Tokyo-3 are called Angels and seem akin to gods, but are actually (according to one of the supplementary sources) expressions of one of a pair of competing "Seeds of Life" launched eons ago by unknown Precursors. What Shinji does at the end also seems to lean towards religion, although it may be interpreted as just science, putting the right objects in the right place and having the desired reaction.
    • Aforementioned supplementary sources also imply that the Secret Dead Sea Scrolls everyone based their actions around is actually Lilith's partially-translated instruction manual SEELE mistook for a religious text. That's right: billions died because of a misunderstanding. Poor Communication Kills taken to the extreme.
  • It turns out that this is the backstory of Kyuubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Kyuubey is otherwise a Magical Girl mascot character, and is capable of teleportation, telepathy, some form of Invisible to Normalsnote , and turning people into Magical Girls, among other things.
  • Nagato Yuki of Haruhi Suzumiya is a prime example of this. By chanting computer code, she can manipulate matter and space with great precision and scope.
    • Yuki also has a superior, the mysterious Kimidori Emiri, and two Evil Counterparts: Asakura Ryouko, a superpowered, really, really freaking scary Uncanny Valley Girl who tries to kill Kyon without even losing her cool and nice attitude, and Kuyou Suou, an Emotionless Girl whose alien race is at war with Yuki's.
    • Also includes a bit of a Starfish Aliens touch, in that they had to create humans in order to try to understand them (the "alien" characters would be more accurately described as artificial humans) and are rather interested in the fact that mere matter can apparently have intelligence.
  • In Tenchi Muyo! the Juraian royalty are semi-divine Sufficiently Advanced Aliens through the pact struck with Tsunami, one of their universe's three Physical Gods (before that they were and still are just Space Pirates). The Word of God also has it that their universe has a real, transcendental God who created said Physical God and her two Sisters, and that this God's avatar is Tenchi.
  • The Anti-Spirals of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. They live "in the space between the tenth and eleventh dimensions", can accurately count the exact number of people living on a given planet instantly, hide the moon in a dimensional pocket, and insert genetic programming into individuals of other races to use them as messengers. Furthermore, they can create virtual spaces in which they control all the laws of physics, even directly modifying the probabilities of events occurring, and they can trap their opponents within these spaces. To say nothing of their cruder abilities: physically tossing entire galaxies as weapons and throwing Big Bangs around like Ki Attacks.
  • The Earthlings from Vandread. They grow humans like crops, have giant, self sustaining battleships, can copy the shape and powers of the Vandreads, and live by replacing their body parts with the body parts of the aforementioned humans. Their Enfante Terrible leader can communicate telepathically and crush things/people with telekinetic powers.
  • Gantz, after running though a whole gamut of alien types, seems to have this trope as its conclusion.
  • Haiyore! Nyarko-san takes the ideas about H.P. Lovecraft (see Literature below) and runs with them, outright stating that the Cthulhu Mythos is based off of stories told to Lovecraft by aliens. By extension, the gods of the Mythos were inspired by members of alien races; the title character, Nyarko, is a Nyarlathotepian, but it's unclear if she's the Nyarlathotep or if it's just a nickname.
  • Subverted in Dragon Ball. First "god" is revealed to be a job title that one only need qualify for when the position is open. Then god is revealed to be an alien by other aliens who came to use his stuff. However Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods reveals that there really is a such a thing as 'godly energy' that is beyond the perception of mortals.

    Comic Books 
  • The Marvel Universe and DC Universe have tons of these. Jack Kirby personally created the Celestials and the New Gods and had a hand in creating the Watchers and Galactus. This trope seems to really have appealed to him.
    • Probably the most famous is Galactus, planet-eating antagonist of the Fantastic Four. He is a humanoid alien from the previous universe, ascended to the ranks of the Marvel cosmic hierarchy- in a sense, he is this trope, but in another sense he is the actual Anthropomorphic Personification of an abstract cosmic principle, and more than a little over-qualified.
    • Runners-up would be the Watchers and the Celestials, who hate each other's guts, interestingly.
      • The Watchers believe it's best not to interfere with the development of other worlds and races (the actions of Uatu, The Watcher that frequently bends these rules, notwithstanding). The Celestials (pictured above) are all about interfering — they guide the evolution of planets and destroy those that don't satisfy their standards. It's not a surprise that these two don't get along — not that it really bothers the Celestials, since the Watchers' actions against them are limited to disapproving stares.
    • Recently Jonathan Hickman's Avengers and New Avengers series have introduced multiple races of seemingly god-like aliens that inhabit the multiverse. Most of these races in fact inhabit and regularly travel between multiple realities, conquering (or destroying) not just planets but entire universes. The Builders, an advanced race that took all the galactic powers of Earth-616 (the primary setting of Marvel comics) to barely defeat, are laughed off by an inter-dimensional traveler as "only" having influence in several thousand realities. Several more far more dangerous races such as the Black Priests, Ivory Kings, and Map Makers have since been introduced.
    • In the Earth X trilogy (Earth X, Universe X, Paradise X), all the gods are sufficiently advanced aliens (evolution wise), it's a long story.
  • The Ten-Seconders: The "Gods" who presented themselves as superheroes to humanity are in fact only the rebellious children of a truly godlike race of aliens who created them for their own experiments. The comic eventually concludes that none of these entities are really gods, just more powerful/advanced ones.

     Fan Works 
  • Ultraman Lugeno from Ultraman Moedari uses telepathic powers to do almost anything. Later on, Ultrawoman Lunaram can as well. The Satunamist can literally do anything with a mere thought.
  • Shag and Varx in With Strings Attached are of some “lizardy, birdy” race with technology sufficiently advanced to shuffle people from one dimension to another for an undergraduate class project, to bestow people with considerable power, and to maneuver those people into annoying situations. Jeft, who is a Grey, pretends he's a god, but the others are quick to distance themselves from that definition.
  • In Child of the Storm, Kryptonians were this, with their powers under a yellow sun (though Word of God has hinted that the vast majority were 'only' at Asgardian level - which still means that each is a Person of Mass Destruction / One-Man Army - on the grounds that the planet would not otherwise have survived its 'Age of Wars'), and their literally godlike technology, which made them the only equals of the Asgardians, despite being mortal.
  • The entire universe is implied to have been this way in Sailor Moon: Legends of Lightstorm. The "magic" used by the Sailor Scouts is actually based in ultra-advanced science, as proven by one of the title characters having memorized the power mechanisms of a dead Sailor Scouts. He also uses magic-like "Moon Kingdom science" to make weapons and tools. When not fighting, he teaches Moon Kingdom science to Sailor Mercury.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover and its sequel Origins, the "Local Cluster Council" and "Federated Cluster Union" are actually Sufficiently Advanced Aliens pretending to be an Omniscient Council of Vagueness. Their mastery of Faster-Than-Light Travel is shown to be much higher than the heroes' civilizations, and indeed is the only way to do FTL that doesn't cause rips in space. This becomes important later since said rips are letting in an Alien Invasion, Flood mixed with Reapers.


  • The Great Houses from the Faction Paradox continuity. They anchored the relationship between cause and effect whilst the universe was still in its infancy, and their home planet acts as a mean time for the entire universe. When they go to war, they use entire cultures as weapons.
  • This is the central conflict of Contact, both the novel and the movie based on it, by Carl Sagan. The main character is an atheist and believes in rational explanations for everything, but at the end her journey to the center of the galaxy is revealed to be in every respect a religious experience.
    • The book is even more explicit; the journey is to an artificial world where the aliens are researching physical constants looking for messages written into reality itself — a church the size of a planet. And once they return, the main character is able to find one of these messages herself (in pi). Thus, Sufficiently Advanced Science is indistinguishable from religion.
  • In Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos saga, we have various examples:
    • The Shrike. The thing can travel through time, kill all of its enemies in a blink (by freezing time around them) and impale them in a metal tree designed to torture them for centuries.
    • The TechnoCore: They created an exact replica of the Earth. Later it's revealed that the Earth was actually teleported instead of being swallowed by the black hole on its core. Also, they created the Death Rods, the Farcasting system, and a device to give immortality to humans: the Cruciform parasite.
    • The "others" (the ones who actually teleported Earth when the TechnoCore entities were freaking out in fear).
  • Arthur C. Clarke's novels feature this as a constant theme — not surprising given that he's the trope namer.
    • 2001, 2010, and their sequels explore this in great detail, starting with the aliens' uplift of proto-humans in the African savannah, and progressing to the modern era when it's discovered that they've seeded the solar system with monoliths designed to alert them when humans start to venture into space. They then deliberately capture one (David Bowman) and forcibly ascend him in order to create an intermediary. In 2010, they turn Jupiter into a star to protect the evolution of life on Europa, and allow HAL to join Bowman. In 3001, the aliens put an unusual twist on the trope; despite their apparently godlike power, they are still bound by the laws of physics, meaning they cannot break the speed of light. This is actually a violation of canon, since 2010 has Bowman describe his awareness of how the c limit can be broken, but Clarke retconned this in turn by denying that any of the other novels was a straightforward sequel of its predecessors.
    • In the Rendezvous with Rama series by Clarke and Gentry Lee, the unseen beings responsible for the construction of Rama and its sister vessels are compared to God by the characters; this point is driven home rather anviliciously in the final novel.
    • Also the Overmind of his Childhood's End.
  • The idea of the Christian God being a Sufficiently Advanced Alien appears in probably more SF stories than can be easily enumerated, but this verges more upon the territory covered by Ancient Astronauts.
  • Most of H.P. Lovecraft's aliens fall into this category: Cthulhu and his ilk do not even have hidden technology. They just are. In fact, Lovecraftian characters' tendency to consider the aliens gods extends to the fans as well. Ask a general Lovecraft fan, and he will very likely tell you, "Cthulhu is a god."
    • Lovecraft did write several stories involving gods like Nodens, Bokrug and ones from established mythology like Hypnos and Bast, who conform better to traditional ideas of godhood, but there's a very good reason for that. Since they're all set in Dream Land, they actually are traditional ideas of godhood.
    • There are Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth who approach Yahweh in terms of power, even if one is an idiot and the other is locked out of the universe.
  • Animorphs has two, and manages to justify the All-Powerful Bystander aspect of this trope. The Ellimist seems to be good and aids the Animorphs at several points, but often refuses to explain why or help them as much as he could. Eventually he explains that he has an Evil Counterpart, Crayak, who seeks to destroy all life just as the Ellimist wants to protect it. A direct fight between the two would destroy themselves and the universe, so they created a "game" where each tries to fulfill their goal within certain agreed-upon rules. So basically, it's the Cold War with god-aliens.
  • Uriel from Clive Barker's Weaveworld is probably one of these, although it's bought into its own hype and thinks it's an angel.
  • The title character of Isaac Asimov's "Azazel" series of short stories is either this, or an actual demon — and possibly both. The stories can't seem to make up their mind, which fits in with the Unreliable Narrator who may just be making them all up.
  • The Humanx Commonwealth series by Alan Dean Foster features a vast array of alien species of varying technology levels, but this particular trope belongs solely to the Xunca. Living a billion years ago, they dominated the entire galaxy and regularly converted entire planets into machines for various projects. They fled to Another Dimension after encountering an unstoppable galaxy-devouring horror, but not before leaving behind a superweapon built out of the Great Attractor, to which the main protagonist, Flinx, is the key. That's galactic-scale engineering for you.
  • In Design for Great-Day, Alan Dean Foster features humanity (or to be more specific, the Solarian Combine), as a super-advanced multi-species who are on the brink of transcending matter itself and becoming Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
  • The Gods (or "Ymirian Guards") in Nerhûn are actually highly advanced aliens from the nearby planet Ymir who used Enôr as an experimental location for genetic modification. It got slightly out of hand, though...
  • The eponymous aliens of S. M. Stirling's The Lords of Creation series alter environments on a planetary scale and create interdimensional gateways with ease.
  • The eponymous AI of Charles Stross' Eschaton universe has the power to have scooped up a large chunk of humanity and scattered it both across lightyears of space and centuries of time. It's also been known to wipe out entire solar systems that mess with time travel.
    • His novella Palimpsest is about Stasis, an organization that has reterraformed the Earth multiple times, redesigned the sun, moved the entire solar system outside of the Milky Way and which basically treats time as its bitch.
  • The Priest-Kings of Gor, who for some reason, kidnap humans from Earth, remove any type of firearm, dump them on the eponymous planet and have them create a society that would make the Dark Ages look feminist. Their reasons are unknown, maybe they're just really bored, or just that into human porn.
    • It's implied in Priest-Kings of Gor that they're motivated largely by intense boredom (Misk has to be physically restrained from committing suicide when the opportunity arises) and that they just think people are interesting.
  • The Strugatsky Brothers play with this trope on two different occasions. Their main mythos includes a hypothetical (known only through archeological evidence) race called Stranniki ("Wanderers") who are suspected of messing with human civilization in unclear ways. Roadside Picnic is based on the premise that sufficiently advanced aliens visit Earth, leaving a bunch of (again) confusing artifacts.
  • Palmer Eldritch in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.
  • The Leatherfaces in Under the Dome are the children of a sufficiently advanced alien race. They exist outside of normal time and space, don't even seem to remember what corporeal bodies are, and play with humans the same way that human children might "play" with ants using a magnifying glass. Although they do use machinery, an invincible box the size of a Tivo set that can project a five mile high dome capable of stopping a cruise missile is definitely pretty advanced.
  • The ancient Arisians and Eddorians of the Lensman universe. The Arisians come closest, having direct mental control over matter to a level that the Eddorians do not.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space stories, the Outsiders have technology that the other species — even the Puppeteers, who are at least ten thousand years ahead of humanity — cannot even begin to comprehend much less replicate.
  • The Jenoine of Dragaera. It takes the full attention and utmost efforts of Sethra Lavode, the most powerful sorcerer on the planet due to being a two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-year-old vampire to kill a single Jenoine scout. They are so powerful that the gods of this world, who are actually former slaves of the Jenoine who rebelled with magic learned from their masters, are scared of them.
  • In Stanisław Lem's The Cyberiad, a scientist called Klapaucius theorizes that there must exist a civilization that is on the highest possible level of development. He eventually finds it, but he's shocked to see that they do absolutely nothing. This is because they think doing anything when you're perfect is pointless; "You climb to reach the sum­mit, but once there, discover that all roads lead down!"
  • Rather common in Perry Rhodan. Perhaps the most iconic type of Sufficiently Advanced Alien in the setting is the "super-intelligence", typically (but not necessarily always — more exotic origins have been described) the collective disembodied minds of one or more entire precursor species making up one distinct entity that usually claims one or more galaxies (with all their 'lesser' inhabitants) as its personal territory. (And yes, our galaxy along with a bunch of others is nominally governed by such a being as well; it's the original source of the protagonists' immortality phlebotinum, for one. Thankfully, IT is usually content to remain a bit more obscure and less actively interventionist than a lot of its colleagues.) At least two more Evolutionary Levels above these are known to exist...
  • In Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga and Void Trilogy, you get the Silfen, who are elves that can travel between planets by walking the Silfen Paths. Even though humans are pretty sure the paths are actually disguised wormholes, they aren't able to understand how they work, or even to detect the paths. In the Void Trilogy some of their "magic" was reverse-engineered by Ozzie Fernandez Isaacs to create the gaïafield, which allow humans equipped with gaïamotes to share emotions and dreams. The Firstlifes who built the void could also qualify, as no one understand its purpose or how it works.
  • Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time are reality warping sufficiently advanced humans. They reached godhood one million years before the beginning of the story, which, ironically, caused humanity to fall into decadence by boredom (omnipotence can do that apparently) and by the beginning of the first book, only a few hundreds of them still exist on earth, yet, even diminished as they are, they are still by far the most powerful race in the universe (well, the fact that their technology is so costly in energy that it is dramatically speeding up the heat death of the universe means that there are not that many potential rivals anymore) and are still able to understand their own technology, the problem is that they use it to built pink suns on a whim or tinker with the space-time continuum to pass time instead of trying to fix the mess they created. It is even implied that some of them actually go to other universes and start insanely destructive wars against gods because they have nothing better to do.
  • Tuffy in John Ringo's Into the Looking Glass series. Unless, as hinted, he's something even stranger.
  • Langhorne and the other founders of Safehold are this to the unwitting colonists. Shan-Wei, a founder who resists the idea of setting themselves up as "Archangels" is defeated and becomes the planetary religion's equivalent of Satan.
  • The Preservers of Paul J. MaCauley's Confluence series are worshiped as gods by the inhabitants of the title construct, a literal space needle several thousand kilometers long which they built and populated with genegeneered species of their creation. Subverted in that in the second book it is revealed that they were actually Suficiently Advanced Humans and that the series takes place millions of years in the future.
  • The Precursors of David Brin's Uplift series who are directly or indirectly responsible for the existence of all but a tiny fraction of a percentage of intelligent species. That tiny fraction apparently includes us, although there is debate about it that eventually becomes a multi-sided holy war.
  • The Spindle aliens in Terry Pratchett's Strata had the technology (which we retroengineered from artifacts of their dead civilization) to create planets from scratch and extend life into the realm of centuries (although few humans go beyond the three century mark without directly or indirectly commiting suicide).
    • Subverted with the later discovery that they never existed, and neither did their precursors, or the ones before that. All ancient aliens were discovered due to everyone who can engineer planets inevitably deciding at some point to put their signature on it somehow, with the human example tending to be things like hiding a boot in a coal seam. It turns out that all the evidence of ancient aliens is itself apparently a metaphorical boot hidden by the creators of the universe.
  • The Souls from The Host especially when it comes to medicine, which is almost ridiculously effective, ridding the body of infection, fever, cancer, whatever, pretty much instantly.
  • The Builders who created the title construct of Eric Brown's Helix, a construct which contains thousands of constructed planets linked together in the titular shape.
  • Robert Sheckley's short story "Hunting Problem" is about a Sufficiently Advanced Alien who is the worst member of his scout troop and desperately needs to win a merit badge before the upcoming Scouter Jamboree. To this end, he engages in a hilariously inept attempt to obtain a human pelt using "colonial" methods such as shapeshifting and summoning objects out of thin air.
  • Practically every alien that the protagonists encounter from the Chinese novel series The Adventures Of Wisely is an example of this trope, having evolved to the point that every one of them invariably possess abilities that make them demigods by our standards - Psychic Powers, instanteous travel, effectively unlimited lifespans, the ability to phase through solid matter, can exist in multiple locations at any given time, and are virtually impossible to kill using means available to us, and this is by no means an exhaustive list; thankfully the protagonists tend to pull through either by virtue of having a friendly Sufficiently Advanced Alien on their side, or by talking them down via finding loopholes in their often bizarre reasoning and code of ethics.
  • Orion First Encounter: The makers of the Orion. They can rewire people's brain, bend the time/space continuum and make holographic boxing gloves that can interact with whatever they come into contact with.
  • The Taking builds up the horrifying monsters and bizarre growths that appear as alien invaders remaking the Earth to be suitable for them. Molly, the protagonist, brushes the impossible sights around her off as the result of alien technology thousands of years ahead of humanity. The ending reveals it to have been an inversion. The invaders were actually demons and the "invasion" and "terraforming" are implied to have been a Despair Gambit based on what people expect to see.
  • "The Last Question" is a short story by Isaac Asimov, which, at the end, features Cosmic AC, an artificial intelligence that exists outside the known universe, and has absorbed all minds and all data in the universe, and thus can be said to be functionally omniscient. At the end of time, in a dead universe having suffered heat death, it is the only being capable of finally answering the eponymous Last Question: "Can entropy ever be reversed?" However, it has no one it can deliver the answer to. Thus it uses its answer to create a new universe. "Let there be light."
  • The Elder Gods in the Titus Crow series by Brian Lumley are a bunch of Cthulhuoid deities who are all a Good Counterpart to their more famous brethren. They provided humanity with protections against the Cthulhu Mythos as well as bound their kinsmen. It's implied they assist other races in their development as well.
  • In Flatland, the Sphere is this from the narrator's perspective, having unusual powers deriving from existing in another dimension, i.e. the third.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It seems like Star Trek had dozens of these buggers running around the edges of the Federation: The Cytherians; Trelane, the so-called "Squire of Gothos"; the Organians; the Q; the Thasians, who reared Charlie "Charlie X" Evans; The Companion; Nagilum; the Caretaker; the Douwd (one of whom wiped out an expansionist empire in a fit of anger); Bajor's "Prophets" (even though they never came out of the wormhole); Apollo and the other Olympians; even Quetzalcoatl (in an episode of the animated series). It's implied that Wesley Crusher became one when he was Put on a Bus, as did Kes from Star Trek: Voyager.
    • What does God need with a starship?
    • The Metrons, from the famous TOS episode where Kirk fought the Gorn.
    • Also the Guardian of Forever (or alternately, the ancient race that created said Guardian).
    • Humans can be this to a sufficiently primitive race if first contact is sufficiently bungled as both Picard (in the TNG episode "Who Watches the Watchers?") and Kirk (in Star Trek Into Darkness) discovered.
  • Babylon 5 has Lorien and the First Ones (the Vorlons and the Shadows can be killed, so they're not on this level; and they represent themselves as angels and demons respectively rather than as gods).
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 parodied this trope for everything it was worth in the Sci-Fi era with the Observers, a race of disembodied brains carried around in bowls by bodies that they claimed didn't exist. Despite claims that they were possessed of all knowledge in the universe, they are an omnipotent race of morons — assuming that Tom Servo was one of them because he did well on an IQ test and he started carrying an olive in a dish and pretending it was his brain, and finding chili dogs an incredibly fascinating concept, to name just two instances.
  • In Stargate SG-1 the Ori fit this: they are immaterial, pretty close to all-knowing, and have near absolute control over natural forces. Their followers point out that there's really a fair argument to be made that the Ori are gods. To which SG-1 usually retorts that even if their power and knowledge are real, their actions make them unworthy of devotion.
    • In the Stargate-verse, the Ancients, the "good guy" counterpart to the Ori, are also "ascended" human-like beings. Though they have a strict policy of not interfering in mortal matters, the Ancients left all sorts of neat tech lying around when they ascended (including the eponymous stargates and city of Atlantis). The Ancients are often said to have re-created human life across the galaxy when they started ascending.
    • While the Nox are Space Elves instead of Energy Beings, what little we've seen of them seems to paint them in this light.
  • In Stargate Universe, when the Destiny comes across a planet that shouldn't be there that looks as if it was built for them, they theorize all-powerful aliens must've built it, especially because of a huge monolith with strange writing. A theory that gains more credence when a group of people left behind on that planet suddenly and inexplicably show up a galaxy away... after freezing to death. Also the "all-powerful aliens" bit is not too outlandish in the Stargate verse, what with the Ascended (it would be well within the power of the Ascended to create a perfectly habitable planet).
  • Farscape featured these occasionally, and they ranged from the humanoid to the utterly otherworldly. By far the most extraordinary were the True Ancients, who had power to control minds, open wormholes, and in the case of at least one, "wrap time around his little finger."
  • In Doctor Who there are the Eternals, for instance, who dismiss the Time Lords with "Are there Lords of such a small domain?" In the Expanded Universe novels, a group of Eternals are the seldom-mentioned gods of Gallifrey. And then it turns out that The Eternals themselves greatly respect creatures known as the Black and White Guardians, who are as far above them as they are above Time Lords.
    • The Time Lords themselves also count. Having made technology to travel anywhere in time and space, as well as other goodies like the Sonic Screwdriver, and being capable of cheating death.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (1978) the Seraphs are this to the Colonists. Interestingly, the Colonists regard the Seraphs as exactly this - technologically advanced aliens.
    • Later, the Colonists take this role to the Terrans, and to Earth.
  • Subverted in Earth: Final Conflict; the Taelons view themselves as this out of arrogance, but, as Energy Beings who can't replenish the energy they're made out of and burn, are actually an evolutionary dead end. Their technology appears wondrous, but it, too, dies from lack of sustenance without outside intervention. It's later revealed that the entire Taelon species was created by a cult, who drained core energy out of the rest of the Atavus in order to give a relatively small group thousands of years of potential life. This left the majority of the race (now calling themselves Jaridians) short-lived and extremely pissed off. It's no wonder the Jaridians are so pissed off at the Taelons. Also, the change left the Taelons weak and dying, until a race of Energy Beings called the Kimera came and fixed their genome (as their way of saying thanks, the Taelons exterminated the Kimera). A branch of the original vampiric Atavus lived on Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago and seemed that way to the primitive humans, until a meteor shower forced them into slumber. Prior to that, their leader Howlyn used the DNA of a dead time-traveling monk to "upgrade" the primitive hominids to the more "modern" man.
  • JAG: In "Sightings", Harm discusses this as part of his Agent Scully argument:
    Harm: You expect the spaceships to be lined up along the tarmac?
    Meg: Very funny.
    Harm: Seriously. If there was a race advanced enough to travel millions of light-years to Earth, I truly doubt we could catch them, no matter how much we wanted to.
  • In Star Wars Legends, there were the Celestials, a race of even more mysterious beings who used impossibly advanced technology to shape entire star systems, and may very well have been connected to the physical embodiments of the Force itself.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Mandrake the Magician runs into these, far more often than you'd expect a crimefighter whose speciality is stage tricks to do.

    Tabletop Games 
  • For a more Eldritch Abomination style advanced alien, there's the ETI from Eclipse Phase.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the mer and kor on the plane of Zendikar each worship a triplet of gods, the legends of which are based on the horrific Eldrazi (Eldritch Abominations). The mer gods Cosi and Ula are based on the Eldrazi monstrosities Kozilek and Ulamog.
    • Karn the Silver Golem was a sufficiently advanced robot, an assembly of artifacts indistinguishable from an old-style Planeswalker. He even created his own world.
  • The C'tan of Warhammer 40,000. They fall somewhere between Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and Energy Beings, given that they had no physical form and little power to influence the world until their followers gave them bodies.
    • The Old Ones were Sufficiently Advanced Aliens long before the C'tan decided to stop ignoring sentient races and start eating them. They seeded worlds with life, created safe realms within the Warp, and created the Eldar (who later ascended to this position themselves) and the Orks.
    • Eldar were this during their peak. They would move the stars for the view.
      • Arguably, they still count. Yes, they're slowly dying out as a race and a culture, but they still have some very nice technology left over that can't really by explained by human science. As do the Necrons, the former servants and now jailers of the above mentioned C'tan.
      • The Dark Eldar even more so, since they didn't see fit to ditch or lock up their toys, unlike their Craftworld and Exodite cousins. This helps make up for their atrophied psychic powers.
      • The Eldar still use projectile weapons, lasers, spaceships, and so on just like everyone else. Their toys may be a bit more shiny than most, but they're a very long way from being sufficiently advanced. The Necron are closer, since no-one understands how their technology is possible, especially their teleporting and FTL travel, but it's still clearly technology and not really in the sufficiently advanced realm.
  • In the 6th Edition of Hero System there are at least three races the Malvans, the Odrugarans and the Mandaarians capable of doing anything from colonizing and terraforming asteroids and planets to shattering planets, pull a moon or planet out of its orbit and “fling” it away from its parent body, transmute one type of matter into another type of matter (thus allowing for the nigh-instantaneous creation of objects from “thin air”), quickly and easily clone any living creature, then copy or transfer memories into the clone, create force-fields that protect against virtually any force (including magic and psionics), cross the Milky Way Galaxy in as little as a day (military starships) or a week (common civilian models), teleport people and objects over interstellar distances (and sometimes further), giving themselves any superpower they desire and cure nearly any disease, heal nearly any injury,and extend lifespans for centuries (or even millennia, or can even live forever). Luckily they're all peaceful or too lazy from being able to replicate anything they want to be a threat.
    • This is the weaker version in which The Malvans languished, even though they're still the most advanced species in the universe with the most advanced technology. In one of the alternate universes, however, the event that caused them to become that way never happened the result, they took over the universe and continue expanding and are beginning to expand into the multiverse, to the point where the BBEG of the series, Istvatha V’han, who conquered billions of universes of the multiverse cannot take that one universe over and monitors it very cautiously

    Video Games 
  • If the dialogue from the monolith use means anything, this is probably what the player is in SimEarth.
  • In MARDEK, every other race, especially the Annunaki. However, they are weak enough that they can be defeated outnumbered and forced into a situation where they are forced to fight out of their element. Moric, the first you fight is a necromancer, and is forced to fight himself, first drained of energy after being interrupted in the middle of casting a massive necromantic spell, and then again in a place where he didn't have any dead to raise. Qualna, the second, had powers mainly based around manipulation, deception, and, if necessary, combat from a great distance away. He never expected to be in a real fight at all.
  • In Halo, the Forerunners and their own forerunners, the Precursors, fit the bill neatly. A list of the Forerunners' works include:
    • The Halo Array: 7 (originally 12) ring habitats that act as fortresses and weapons of a kill-all-life-in-the-Galaxy-bigger-than-a-microbe scale. Had the original 12 been activated all at once, the kill-effect would have gone far out into the Local Cluster. The rings themselves have almost the radius of the Earth.
    • The Ark: C&C for the Halo Array, as well as a Halo-factory and a refuge from the destruction. Positioned 3 galactic diameters out from the Galaxy's core. Scale is... considerably larger than a Halo. Comparison.
      • The Ark itself comes with its own small star that moves around it.
      • Halo: Silentium further reveals that Installation 00 was known by the Forerunners as "the Lesser Ark". The Greater Ark was even more massive, and it was there that the Forerunners made their last stand against the Flood.
    • Shield Worlds are essentially hollow or layered planet-sized artificial structures, comparable to what we might call a "small Dyson Sphere". They were built to serve as both Warrior-Servant bases and refuges from the Flood. One of them, known as either the "Sharpened Shield" or Trevelyan, is actually housed in a Pocket Dimension, the gateway to which is inside another Shield World built out of Sentinel robots (i.e small UCAV units). Trevelyan itself has multiple Pocket Dimensions of its own, to store a big starfleet.
    • The Forerunner Saga describes other structures as well. Fortress-Class warships and "The Capital" station, just to name a few. in Fact, the way they're described, it's highly probable that the Covenant capital city-ship/planetoid High Charity was a Fortress-class knockoff. The Forerunners had fleets of the things, each one far superior to High Charity itself.
    • Precursors, on the other hand, are regarded by the Forerunner as Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Their structures are all but indestructible for them, and only a Halo pulse can frag them. Why? Because the Precursors used sentience itself as a building material. Or, something. To be specific, Precursor structures are built using something called "neural physics", which completely baffles the Forerunners; the Domain, a galaxy-spanning and self-aware information network with zero material components, is just one of their many creations. The Precursors are apparently so advanced that they have long since abandoned a single form for their species: the Flood, the insectoid-arachnid prisoner of Charum Hakkor, and the strange, virulent "dust" found by ancient humanity are all Precursors. Furthermore, some dialogue in Silentium suggests that the Precursors are older than the universe itself, and have in fact existed through multiple incarnations of the universe.
  • Some theories have the G-Man in the Half-Life series be one of these. He clearly fits the description as he is able to manipulate reality, stop time and teleport people into bizarre alien realms, all without twitching a muscle. He also appears completely unconcerned by the carnage going on around him.
    • At one point in the series, the Vortigaunts are shown to at least have some kind of power over the G-Man when they manage to successfully hold him off and keep him away from Gordon for some stretch of time. But what exact implications this has on the limits of the G-Man's power is never explained.
  • The Val-Fasq in the Galaxy Angel Gameverse.
  • MOTHER 1 has Giygas, who is a sufficiently advanced alien — advanced enough to where the form of his attacks are incomprehensible, even to psychics. The sequel, EarthBound, upgrades Giygas to Cosmic Horror Story status.
  • The Mother of La-Mulana, who descended to our planet aeons ago and begat all mortal life as helpers to aid her in returning to the stars. She cannot return; the human Player Character has to Mercy Kill her as the Final Boss.
  • The final boss of the first Shadow Hearts, Meta-God, is explicitly described as an alien so powerful humanity is on the level of ants compared to it. The purpose of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is to call it to Earth so that it will lay waste to the planet.
  • The Ancients from Might and Magic; they create worlds for fun.
    • Well, For Science!. Rather oddly, the Kreegan manages to be a major threat to the Ancients, to the point that they brought down the overarching Ancient civilization throughout a Galactic arm, while simultaneously being defeatable by a Lost Colony fallen deep into barbarism and witchcraft without said colony having to resort to scavenged Lost Technology or some new-found Achilles' Heel, if only on the planetary scale (the Kreegan are Planet Looters, and as far as can be told from the games, act independently from Kreegan forces on other worlds).
  • The Cuotl from the game Rise of Legends appear Sufficiently Advanced, since their alien technology is light years ahead of the steampunk Vinci and the magical Alin.
  • The Reapers from Mass Effect. They built the Mass Relays and the Citadel.
    • Averted and subverted with every other race. In Revelations, the turians just before the First Contact War described as being on roughly the same technological level as us. Most other races also dance on that line, and then there are some races like the krogan, vorcha, and drell that "hitchhiked" into space for one reason or another. Which is in turn justified because all advanced space technology is based on the technology of the previous spacefaring civilisations, all of which had a finite time to develop their technology before being harvested by the Reapers. Basicaly, having everything incorporate Mass Effect technology puts everything on an even playing field, at least until the masters of that technology come knocking.
    • The asari got a little boost from the Protheans, allowing them to become more or less the alphas of the Galaxy.
  • The Xel'Naga from Starcraft. They're all about cosmic cycles, "star-forging", and re-creating themselves out of separate species that they engineer and eventually unite. All was nice and dandy until an Eldritch Abomination did them in by corrupting the Zerg, who Turned Against Their Masters, and the Xel'Naga haven't been seen since.
  • The Entity from Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, an ancient AI capable of reshaping reality. The Entity's Creators might also count, since the last Creators have been manipulating primitive humans for centuries until they died. The twist? Their goal was to have humans design an infrastructure that would be compatible with their latest AI Angel, designed to fight the Entity. However, the last Creator died centuries before anyone even thought about creating machines that counted numbers. And yet their plan worked.
  • The Wave Existence from Xenogears, an energy being from another dimension that somehow created our own. It believes it is what the inhabitants of this dimension would regard as "God" but doesn't think of itself as such. Probably because it spent billions of years trapped in the Zohar Modifier.
  • The player in Spore can be this, from creating life on barren planets, painting Crop Circles to incite wonder and worship from primitives, uplifting civilizations to bringing nuclear from the sky upon hapless tribes.
  • Lavos from Chrono Trigger is a sufficiently evolved alien; his species has developed a life-cycle that works on an interplanetary scale. As such, he has enough power to make a barren planet fertile, and vice versa, and was once worshiped as a god.
  • The Titans from World of Warcraft. They travel across the universe, shaping worlds to fit their idea of order.
    • The Naaru as well, as they're essentially angels. That build inter-dimensional spaceships.
    • Several members of the Burning Legion are as well, being corrupted creatures from other planets that build mechanical portals, forges, and Humongous Mecha.
  • Tuatha De Dunaan from Metal Slug 3D.
  • Tezkhra and the Watchers in The Reconstruction turn out to be this, as part of a Doing In the Wizard reveal.
  • In Assassin's Creed I the surviving members of the First Civilization were the basis for the deities of most religions, both due to their technology and the fact that they ruled over humanity before humankind rebelled. The Pieces of Eden have effects considered explicitly to be "magic" by those who witness them, though Altair concludes that it is simply sufficiently advanced — and supremely dangerous — technology. Among the noted abilities of the Pieces of Eden are mind control and immense amounts of technical knowledge (the Apples); telekinesis and mind control (the Staff); resurrection of the dead (the Ankh); healing severe wounds, disease, and genetic disorders (the Shroud); and telepathy (the Crystal Skulls). Some of the artifacts are capable of temporal distortion (the device responsible for the Philadelphia Event) or outright seeing into the future; one of the "senses" of the First Civilization was "knowledge" which apparently allowed them to know things that would be impossible to understand otherwise, and this apparently included the ability to see the future.
  • In the Marathon series of games, the S'pht'Kr probably qualify, the Jjaro definitely do, and Durandal achieves it by the end of Marathon 2.
  • Asura's Wrath has the Shinkoku Trastrium civilization, which are actually super-powered human cyborgs descended from Genetically altered humans, have a lot in common with this trope, with a Hinduism and Buddhism twist.
  • Galactic Civilizations has the Mithrilar, who existed long before any other sentient life and one of whom created the Precursors: Arnor and Dread Lords. One of them is also indirectly responsible for the Altarians being Human Aliens. What happened to them is not known. Two different Victory Conditions result in your species becoming Sufficiently Advanced: either by absorbing enough Ascension Crystal energy or by doing so much research that you learn the secrets of the universe and ascend naturally.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • The X-Universe: Not the Ancients who, while aeons ahead of everyone else, still have technology recognizable as technology. Instead, this status is held by the Outsiders, beings who once tried to invade this universe from another, and had the capability to subtly alter universal physical constants (ie, they could rewrite the laws of physics). The only example of their tech seen were some scouting probes... that were each the size of a solar system. The Ancients barely managed to blow up one of said probes, which apparently convinced the Outsiders to stay out of this universe, as they haven't tried anything since.

    Web Comics 
  • The Prime Movers in Buck Godot are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, and are stated to be omnipotent (at least they're very good at bending the laws of physics and geometry).
    • Lord Thezmothete is most likely one too. His abilities are never explicitly shown or mentioned, but he is mentioned to be a Class 1 Power (by comparison, an alien with the power to teleport entire planets around was classified as Class 8 and humanity — collectively, mind — is a Class 12 Power). He does possess some nifty technology at least, such as a waste disposal unit that creates miniature black holes and in his first appearance was able to make a battle fleet disappear without a trace.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: The Vargas, who organize the tournament. Also the guys from U19, who rely on technology to fight.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Galatea expresses profound disappointment that Fructose Riboflavin isn't one of these.
    "There I was, expecting star-treading demigods, and instead I got a belligerent moth in a rugby shirt. It's not the same."
  • Troops Of Doom has the Legonians, masters of the nigh-magical, Clap Your Hands If You Believe-fueled Legotech.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted in The Salvation War. The demons and angel are very much insufficiently advanced to deal with modern weaponry. However played straight in that this is what they were when they first showed up in the Bronze Age.
    • Inverted for a period of time as well. Once humanity organizes a counterstrike against the demons and absolutely slaughters them, some of the demons begin to believe that humans have figured out how to use impossibly powerful magic and cannot be defeated.
  • Some of the most advanced technology in Orion's Arm is referred to as "clarktech" or "clarketech" in reference to this. Although it's not created by aliens, but by Sufficiently Advanced Terragens — the Archai and the higher Transapients.
  • Inverted in Land Games. The humans seem this way towards the indigenous natives. Some even worship Jayle as a goddess.
  • The Kankiscree, a species of reptilian aliens in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, have had a space-faring, technological society for at least 70 million years. By the time the humans encounter them in 1985, their technology is firmly in the grasp of Clark's Law.
  • This video is rather interesting in its own right, but one of the claims it makes is the believe in "stair step evolution." That is, aliens came along and gave humanity little hints to get its evolution back on track. They also apparently built the pyramids and other religious architecture, and planted it along ley lines in an effort to raise the spiritual energy of humanity to high-level consciousness.
  • In Worm, these are the source of of all parahuman powers. In fact, said physics-breaking powers are vastly crippled versions of their own abilities - and the (ostensible) Big Good Scion turns out to be the avatar of the last one on earth.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible had the Lorwardians, a race of aliens who were not only giant, superstrong creatures, but they also possessed an arsenal of power world-destroying weapons. They were so advanced that it only took two of them to unleash an army of tripods and conquer the earth 'in the time it takes to order a pizza. They were only brought down by Drakken's new mutant plant powers destroying the army of walkers while Ron used his Mystical Monkey Powers to take down the invaders.
  • Sul, the Avatar Satis and Canaletto on Oban Star Racers. The Creators, on the other hand, may actually be gods.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series
    • "Bem" has probably the only instance in the entire franchise of a powerful alien looking after a planet of primitives, who appears to be genuinely wise and benevolent enough that Kirk doesn't automatically object to the situation on principle. Bonus points because the alien was voiced by Nichelle Nichols (Uhura).
    • Also the zookeeping Lactrans in "The Eye of the Beholder,'' who aren't exactly godlike, but are still an order of magnitude beyond Federation tech.
      • Ditto for the Vedala in "Jihad," described as the oldest known space-faring race.
  • Primus, and by extension his polar opposite Unicron, from Transformers. Primus created the Transformers, and his physical form is their homeworld, Cybertron. Unicron has altered a number of Transformers to his own liking, goes around eating planets, and transforms into a planet himself. Whether or not they're actually gods is entirely dependent on what segment of the mythos you're in.
    • Beast Wars has the Vok, the mysterious, skull-shaped aliens who police the space-time continuum and may have created the Earth as an elaborate experiment (and then tried to blow it up with a moon-sized Death Ray). According to some Word of God (their origins are never explained and the writers never really made up their minds on it) they might actually be hyperevolved humans.
    • And that's to say nothing of the Transformers themselves? Come on, they're Mechanical Life Forms capable of altering their very bodily structure that occasionally come back from the dead, and many of them have their own special traits or abilities on top of that, which range from the relatively prosaic (such as force fields, holograms, or moving very fast) to those that border on supernatural (Starscream's immortal spark being one of the most prominent examples). In one episode of the G1 cartoon, they were actually mistaken for gods by an alien race.
      • Members of the First Thirteen, such as Vector Prime and the Fallen, have powers far beyond the abilities of other transformers. Vector Prime, for example, has the ability to manipulate time and space.
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Doctor Doom claims Dormammu (a demon in the original Marvel continuity) was an extra-dimensional alien. He goes so far as to claim his abilities and technology made him seem demonic, explaining why early humans believed him to be from Hell.
  • Gemkind in Steven Universe definitely fall under this; they're essentially living rocks, able to project a Shapeshifter Default Form made of Hard Light, can regenerate said forms if wounded enough, can combine their forms, have access to an interplanetary teleportation network, and live on a geological time scale. Even their millennia-old technology and abilities have yet to be even closely replicated by modern humanity.

  • Mormonism teaches that God at one time existed in a mortal form similar to that of humans but was eventually "exalted" and now possesses a physical body similar to that of humans, but immortal and invulnerable to injury or disease. In the Book of Abraham, Kolob is described as a star that is "near unto [God]" and that has been set to govern all celestial bodies similar to Earth. (See Abraham 3:3) God is the literal father of our spirits and of those on all the other worlds that he created, which are described as being "without number" (Moses 1:33,35). After the second coming of Jesus Christ, everyone who has ever lived or died will be resurrected with perfect, immortal physical bodies similar to God's, but only those who have fulfilled all of the requirements of the Gospel and faithfully endured to the end will obtain "exaltation", entering into the highest degree of Celestial Glory (i.e., the kingdom of God, or "the glory of the sun") and in effect become "gods" themselves, possessing all of God's wisdom and power and becoming able to create their own worlds. (D&C 76:50-70, 92-96) This doctrine, known as "eternal progression", was summarized by former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Mormon prophet Lorenzo Snow as: "As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become."
  • The satirical Church Of The Sub Genius refers to Jehovah-1 as "An evil Space God from some corporate Sin Galaxy", and has an entire hierarchy of more-or-less omnipotent species of aliens, but also claims to believe in the "Elder Gods", and "possibly the One True God, but He ain't talking".
  • That other religion you're thinking of that won't be mentioned here.

    Real Life 
  • Physicist Frank J. Tipler advocates Omega Point theory, in which it is necessary that Sufficiently Advanced Aliens (or Sufficiently Advanced Humans) are not merely indistinguishable from gods, but become/create (it's complicated) God.
    • The idea of "Omega Point" as the point of ultimate human perfection was originally conceived of by French Catholic priest and evolutionary biologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin!
  • Arthur C. Clarke stated that if we ever find intelligent alien life they would be "apes or angels, but not men." The reasoning being that humans spent the vast majority of their history in the stone age, but since the discovery of agriculture just 10,000 years ago technological advancement has accelerated at an almost exponential rate. So the statistical likelihood of contacting a technological species before they hit The Singularity is virtually nil.

Alternative Title(s): Sufficiently Advanced, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens