"My name is Shadow. I'm the world's Ultimate Life Form. There's no time for games, farewell!
A character that can be described as perfect in some or every way. A being that's at the top of the Evolutionary Levels
. They're basically the purpose of life itself, but what
they are tends to vary.
Some works have them as gods
, others can only describe them as totally incomprehensible entities
, others state that the most adaptable creature
would have this title, and in others still, it's nothing more than a simple yet hardy cockroach. A formerly normal person might even become one, usually through some form of enhancement
, or going One-Winged Angel
. Paradoxically, a being without limits, or one that has limitless potential, may qualify as well.
A variant has the character be at the top of a specific type of life, instead of being the apex of all life as we know it. For example, a perfect human, dog, tree, predator, machine
, alien, magical entity, etc.
Another (more realistic
) variant has the character simply have the peak abilities of the type of lifeform it is. Something like a human that excels at all mental and physical tasks
The concept is most often lampshaded
by having the being turn out not to be really perfect or invincible, or turning against its creators
(especially if it's a villain in the story). Just because someone believes himself or herself perfect doesn't mean they actually are
There is an incredibly high chance that their appearance looks human(ish)
; sometimes the transformation to this ultimate form will make them look human
even if they previously lost their humanity along the way or were never human to begin with. This is frequently lampshaded as well; everyone imagines the Ultimate Lifeform to be infinitely beautiful and attractive, and while it may in fact be "perfect" it got that way from so many Power Upgrading Deformations
that it's become an Eldritch Abomination
by dint of ugliness.
The theory of evolution pretty much disproves the concept in Real Life
as adaptation is usually triggered by adverse conditions and forms will stabilize once those conditions have been overcome, not to mention that multiple generations
are required for the adaptation to complete via natural selection. This doesn't stop Evilutionary Biologists
from claiming this as the objective of their work while still claiming to be scientists
. There have been Real Life claims that certain species or people do indeed fit the description, so adding examples to that section is perfectly fine.
See also the Übermensch
; it's a matter of interpretation how closely these concepts overlap, but there are those who conflate the two.
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Anime and Manga
- From Fullmetal Alchemist, Father's final form had the power of God. Unfortunately for him, the power put too much strain on his body, eventually rendering him vulnerable to counterattacks.
- Cell from Dragon Ball Z, a bio-engineered creature made from DNA harvested from the greatest fighters in the series up until that point considers himself to be this, and says so in as many words. Upon taking on his final form, Cell declares himself "perfect". As he explains after surviving his own self-destruct technique due to having one cell left: with Namekian DNA he can regenerate from any injury, with Frieza and King Cold's DNA he can survive the vacuum of space and injuries that a Namekian can't survive like decapitation or being blown to bits, and with Saiyan DNA he gets stronger with each fight and gains a massive power boost whenever he recovers from an injury (regeneration normally drains the subject's energy when used).
- The Twelve Kingdoms: Tentei (The God of the Heavens); the rulers and officials of kingdoms can err, but this guy certainly can't.
- Szayelaporro Grantz calls himself the ultimate, perfect being because he has a phoenix/Alien-like system of death and rebirth, but you can bet Mayuri proved him wrong. Gruesomely, and with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about perfection being the enemy of a scientist.
- Sosuke Aizen, after he obtains the Hogyoku, claims to be the ultimate, if not perfect being, Then Ichigo defeats him in two blows and the power rejects him. Aizen might've been rendered unkillable due to the Hogyoku, but Ichigo clearly had his number before using the Final Getsuga Tenshou (which, while largely ineffective, destroyed most of the extra features of Aizen's OWAs). All of this precedes the manga's final arc, which features villains even further up the Sorting Algorithm of Evil (most of all, Yhwach, who killed Yamamoto) and the revelation that "Zangetsu" (long story there) was suppressing Ichigo's power for the entirety of the series up to that point.
- Aaroniero Arruruerie boasted that since he gains the powers and memories of any creature he eats, as well as the powers and memories of anything they ate, he has the potential for endless evolution. He's proven wrong with fatal results when Rukia stabs him through the head. "Potential", after all, only helps if you live long enough to achieve it and Aaroniero demonstrates that you're a lot less likely to do that if you're a moron.
- Betterman: Kankel is described as the final stage of evolution, so much so he has the nickname of "Best Man". His powerful abilities help back this claim up. Interestingly, he's also a sentient form of cancer.
- Heavy Metal L Gaim: The Big Bad of the series, Emperor Oldna Poseidal fits this description since he's virtually immortal.
- The Pillar Men from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure are referred to as the ultimate life forms. One of them, Kars, becomes the real ultimate life form when the Red Stone of Aja removes his vulnerability to sunlight and allows him to replicate the abilities of all other life forms. In this case, Kars was truly invincible. The only reason Joseph won is because he used Kars's immortality against him.
- Meryem, the Chimera Ant King, from Hunter × Hunter considers himself to be this, and he's probably right.
- One Piece: Word of God says that if an animal eats their corresponding Devil Fruit, then they would become the perfect specimen of that species. There is a Human fruit, which makes the eating animal a werehuman, and would enlighten a human being.
- Mewtwo in the Anime more than matched the trope, and has a lot of personality traits similar to Shadow. His creators were deliberately going for "the world's strongest pokemon".
- Shadow himself in Sonic X.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Fraulein Kreutune has an Adaptive Ability and Cannibalism Superpower. Aleister Crowley notes that she has the potential to become the ultimate lifeform, but at her current rate of development, it would take about 2300 years, though she would achieve it nearly instantly if she were to eat Last Order and gain her powers. One has to wonder what Crowley's criteria for ultimate life form are, as Fraulein already has Complete Immortality.
- This was the original intended purpose of the Marvel Comics character Adam Warlock and his Distaff Counterpart Paragon/Her/Kismet/Ayesha.
- The X-Men villains Vargas and Apocalypse both make claims to be this. Decades earlier, Magneto genetically engineered a being called Alpha the Ultimate Mutant who had a pretty strong claim as well (he turned against Magneto, transforming him into a child so he could have a second chance at life.)
- In Buffy Season 8, the sentient dimension Twilight considered itself to be this, since it was created by the universe to replace the old Earth dimension.
- Captain America is considered to technically not have any superpowers, but instead operates at humanity's maximum physical potential. He's as strong, enduring, and dextrous as any human can possibly be; back it up with decades of military experience and he's more than a match for any actual superhuman.
- This is what Doomsday was created to be. Its abilities and instincts all lend themselves to the goal of being the ultimate survivor, including, unfortunately, the instinct to seek out and kill the strongest creatures it can sense within its environment. Even worse, due to the trauma of being killed and resurrected countless times, Doomsday sees everything as a threat that needs to be killed.
- Superman himself could be seen as one, being "as strong as he needs to be" and having more powers in his eyes than most superheroes have in their entire body.
- The Archie Comics' version of Shadow the Hedgehog counts, but is not the Trope Namer like his game counterpart. He's much more like a Trope Codifier, which is strange considering he's literally the same character.
- In Armored Core: from the Ashes, the 'Demon' project, of which the protagonist was a subject, was an attempt to create these; impossibly fast and strong (as in able to catch bullets in mid-flight, more intelligent than almost any human alive, and incredibly devastating NEXT pilots. The only subject to survive was Sebastian Thermidor, grandfather or the protagonist and the program's instigator. He went insane, but had two sons, Joshua (who would later change his last name to O'Brien) and Berlioz. Joshua used a lifetime of mental training to lock away his powers so that he couldn't use them; Berlioz went completely insane, but he too had two sons, Maximillian and the protagonist, Mikhael, known to most as 'Ghost'. Pretty much the entire family was slaughtered by Mikhael on a massive worldwide killing spree. As it turns out, their key failure was that their emotions had far too much sway over them, leaving them emotionally overloaded and unable to feel anything through the haze of emotions they had. With the exception of Joshua, who managed sealed his abilities away to stop them from affecting him, all acquired God Complexes and killed millions; the protagonist himself, accepted as possibly the most morally righteous of the family, killed a hundred million people to achieve his objectives after turning against his masters. So, in the end, the Demons were a textbook case of Gone Horribly Right - perfect beings, but precisely because they were perfect, they became incredibly flawed.
- In the Pony POV Series, Celestia's Fallen Alicorn brother Morning Star viewed himself as this, somewhat justifiably due to him being made to be the Anthropomorphic Personification of Perfection and Beauty. However, this led to him viewing himself as better than even the Elders and trying to overthrow them, which led to his being sealed.
- This also appears to be what the Hooviets were aiming for in the Super Soldier project that led to Makarov's creation. Since the Shadow of Chernobull was feeding off of the Hooviets' desires when it was released, it's worked hard to make itself/Makarov into this trope for them.
- Leeloo in The Fifth Element is considered a "perfect being".
- In Alien, Ash calls the xenomorph a "perfect organism".
- One of the many probable origins for Irys in the Gamera films is that it is supposed to be the ultimate evolution of the Gyaos and the perfect lifeform.
- Orga in Godzilla 2000 tries to become this by absorbing Godzilla's DNA and mutating into a hulking behemoth with Godzilla's regenerative powers (Orga is short for "Organizer G-1", the name of the gene that allows Godzilla to heal so quickly). He would've won too, if he hadn't stupidly tried to eat Godzilla and was obliterated by his nuclear pulse.
- The Andromeda Strain: The titular entity adapts to any situation almost instantly and proves itself to be virtually unstoppable. Even able to feed off the energy of a nuclear blast.
- Though in the book it turns out that the infection is curable by hyperventilating, and it mutates into a benign form anyways.
- Evolution: The basic bacteria that create the alien creatures are described as the most powerful life form. Of course, no one takes this seriously until one grows to the size of a city by absorbing vast amounts of napalm. It turns out to have a Weaksauce Weakness, though.
- Star Wars: It is heavily implied that Anakin Skywalker may have served as this, and that his creator was either Darth Plagueis and to a certain extent Darth Sidious (the latter apparently having manipulated the former into creating him among other things), or he was created directly by the Force itself.
"Of all the monsters I have created, I still regard Darth Vader as something of a minor masterpiece. No, he was not an entirely alchemical creation, but he was my
monster nevertheless. Even though he failed to live up to his full potential, there was much pleasure in transforming Anakin Skywalker from a bright-eyed, tousle-headed youth into the greatest Jedi killer of all time
. Yes, he ultimately turned against his Master
, as monsters sometimes do, but that was my fault, not his. Given the opportunity to create Vader again, I would, and with zeal."
- One could argue that Asgardians from Thor are ultimate life forms since they know no disease, their lifespans are in the thousands of years and they are both strong and tough enough to be considered walking tanks. Of course as we see later on this doesn't seem to be uncommon among the different realms so perhaps it's just humans that suck in an otherwise ultimate universe.
- The Alterien series. The Alteriens are superior versions of their immediate predecessors. The Alteriens have superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, senses, psychic powers and can manipulate energy at will. Furthermore, they can move through 4-dimensional space.
- The Types (Type-Moon, Type-Mercury, etc.)/Aristoteles in Angel Notes. Each of them is the ultimate life form of their respective home planet or satellite, even if said celestial body doesn't support life (anymore).
- The high spirits of Astral Dawn could be considered this. They were ordinary mortal humans in life before they died and left their bodies as spirits. Afterwards, they became more aware and more powerful, evolving in an age they called the Astral Dawn. Those spirits considered themselves elevated to high spirits and used their new abilities to travel through space and time. Many of them even became the gods and legends of the world. They all represent a possible future path for humanity that evolves beyond the need for physical bodies.
- In the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, the branch of the technocore dubbed the Ultimates are working towards the creation of an Ultimate Intelligence.
- In The Last Continent, the heroes encounter the God of Evolution, who, despite not understanding what the deal is with sex, believes he has achieved the ultimate life form. It's a cockroach.
- In the Science of Discworld, the Lecturer in Recent Runes designs what he claims will be the ultimate survivor for Roundworld: a mile-long limpet that could survive a cometary impact (aside from a direct hit on the limpet itself). Ridcully poo-poos the idea, as the limpet will inevitably starve to death once it gets too big to feed itself.
- Nietzsche proposed in his book Also Sprach Zarathustra that humanity needed to evolve into what he termed the Übermensch (Super-man); that humanity was merely a transitional evolutionary phase between apes and this perfect form of man. Those Wacky Nazis picked up on Nietzsche's theme with their idea of an Aryan master race.
- Azathoth in HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos is quite possibly this. It is an extra-dimensional that simply exists, mindlessly, dreaming realities in and out of existence randomly. It exists almost like some kind of vast, incomprehensible amoeba which, when you think about it, means it started as an amoeba that could do nothing and now exists as an amoeba that can do anything. If things like Azathoth even evolved of course, they are Eldritch Abominations after all.
- In Galaxy of Fear, the Big Bad designs a creature to be the ultimate Super Soldier, having all the powers touched on in the previous books. It can touch people's bare skin to turn them into jelly and then absorb them, getting stronger from that; it is impervious to being fired upon and can almost instantly regenerate severed limbs; it can trap people in psychic visions of their worst fears. It goes toe to toe with Darth Vader and holds its own, though they got interrupted. However, it turns out to be vulnerable to Defusing The Tykebomb and when that starts to happen, the Big Bad just triggers the bomb in its head, which apparently it can't recover from. Aware of this, Vader scornfully says it's not so ultimate after all.
- The 'Mandatory Twist Ending' hints that it's still alive... though it also says that might be the wind, and since it never shows up again, well.
- In Blue Light by Walter Mosley, a blue light from an unknown corner of the universe hits humans on Earth and causes them to die, go crazy, or become a superior lifeform, who is the best at whatever they are doing at the time they are hit.
- Big Brother is completely above human flaws and error, and reality itself rearranges to keep in line with what he says. He will never die, because he is one with the perfection of the Party. Or so the propaganda machine goes; it's far more likely that he's more a concept/ideal than an actual life form, played by a succession of actors.
- Namtar of Farscape seeks to be this by grafting genetic traits of other species onto himself.
- The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Threshold" averts the "looking human" thing - Paris & Janeway get advanced evolution and end up looking like salamanders. This is later subject to Canon Discontinuity.
- The objective of the Borg of Star Trek: The Next Generation is to attain "perfection", both by augmenting their own bodies cybernetically and by assimilating the biology and technology of other cultures.
- Species 8472 is also described by the Borg as the perfect lifeform, as they're the only life the Borg have encountered that are immune to assimilation.
- The Q from ''Star Trek'. They are for all intents and purposes omnipotent and know everything. They consider most if not all other species beneath them and have transcended anything humans can comprehend. It was even implied they might have evolved to their current state.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- One Monster of the Week on Denji Sentai Megaranger was actually called "The Ultimate Lifeform."
- Multiple of these beings appear in the Kamen Rider franchise:
- Kamen Rider ZO has the Neo Organism. It's an artificially created lifeform capable of assimilating other creatures and materials into its own being and to create new creatures himself. When it reappeared as a major villain in one of the crossover movies, not even the final forms of all the Kamen Riders were enough to defeat it.
- Kamen Rider Blade has the artificially created Kerberos Undead. Even the formidable Giraffa Undead steered clear of it, while Giraffa normally one-hits his opponents.
- "Heroes": It's the goal of Sylar is to become this. In fact, in one alternate future, he does become the perfect organism (by his standards) and uses his abilities to become president.
- The Daleks of Doctor Who, in their own estimation.
- The Outer Limits (1995): In the season 1 episode "The New Breed", nanomachines involuntarily mutate the man who initially injected himself with them—to heal his cancer—into something like this, as they try to fix all types of 'limitations'. He soon develops gills so he can breathe underwater, a second pair of eyes in the back of his head to see in a 360 degree radius, and poisonous skin and more ribs to fight off attacks. As he turns into a nigh-invulnerable mutant, he realizes that it's truly a Fate Worse Than Death.
Mythology and Religion
- God (and most of His imitators) may or may not be this, depending on how you define "life form". Jesus, on the other hand, is definitely an example according to Christian theology, being a human totally free of sin.
- Behemoth and Leviathan were created as the ultimate land-dwelling and sea-dwelling lifeforms respectively, said to be so huge and powerful that only God himself could tame them. Some sources also add Ziz.
- Adam and Eve were this before the Fall, but lost this status when they sinned.
- In Catholic theology, Mary, the Mother of God is this, as she is the only human being (without the divine nature her son possessed) conceived free from sin.
- In Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, creatures can have the "paragon" template, an incredibly powerful modification that reflects beings who represent the highest natural potential of their species. Such beings may be some sort of "original" form of the species, evolutionary end point, or other ideal. It is not necessarily anthropomorphic; any type of creature may be a paragon.
- The Slivers in Magic: The Gathering are often stated to be this. Indeed, the Flavor Text of the Sliver Overlord describes it as "The end of evolution."
- Creating the ultimate life form was the secret goal of the Simic Guild from Ravnica. Their Experiment Kraj was actually meant to spiral out of control.
- The "Chaos Effect" line of Jurassic Park toys had the Ultimasaurus, a genetically altered monster created from Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor, Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, and Stegosaurus DNA to create the ultimate predator.
- Commander Kitty. Zenith thinks she's this, but she's actually an android.
- In The Dragon Doctors, such a thing exists, as an infectious, infinitely-adaptable fungal parasite called the Crax that consumes you from within and turns you into a nearly-invincible monster. The entire species is collectively one Crax, as it has a hive-mind, and it turns out that it used to be a human being named Preston Chang who turned himself into the thing so he could live forever by eating everything. He's thwarted in the Spirit World, but attacks Kili mentally again in a later chapter called "The Ultimate Life Form." It eventually turns out that the real Crax has evolved in response to the spiritual attack by getting rid of its weakness—the spirit of Preston Chang himself. He's dead, just a ghost haunting Kili, and when she realizes this she crushes him easily, after he had spent the entire chapter recounting all the horrible things that have happened to her in order to break her will. The doctors mention that the ultimate life form is not the ultimate eating machine, but the ultimate survivor. Since the chapter established that Kili has survived being touched by Death itself and multiple catastrophes, that implies she's the titular Ultimate Lifeform.
- SCP-682 of SCP Foundation fame arguably fits this by virtue of being able to survive anything. If there is something that can permanently kill the beast, the Foundation hasn't found it yet or is too afraid to try it. The "arguably" part is due to the possibility that 682 may not technically be alive as humans understand it. One researcher in the termination log referred to it as an "unliving, undying intelligent monster".
- Superjail: Combaticus fits into this trope very easily.
- Ben 10: Alien Force: Highbreed considers themselves above all other species. Although they are apparently smarter and obviously MUCH stronger than almost all other life forms, that's not the reason for their Fantastic Racism. For all their power, the process of reproduction is something they're losing the ability to do.
- Ben 10: Ultimate Alien,
- Ben can now evolve his aliens to their final stage in their evolutionary form. Word of God stating that it is a simulated result of each alien being taken to a worst case scenario and the final result of millions of years in that scenario.
- Aggregor's goal was to become the Ultimate Life Form by absorbing an infant Celestialsapien, giving him the seemingly limitless power of Alien-X but (as the infant's minds hadn't developed yet) without the crippling weakness of needing to negotiate with the Celestialsapien's two other minds to do anything.
- An episode of Animaniacs features the ultimate life form, known only as Toe (yes, he's a giant toe), who claims that, in a million years, they will look just like him. Truly, Toe has no apparent weaknesses except that he always needs someone to do his cuticles.
- Project GKR was meant to be one. It doesn't quite take: he's stolen before his final mental programming can be completed, and what we get is Geeker - an idiot with Power Incontinence.
- Venture Brothers: In the Previously On segment of "Escape to the House of Mummies Pt II", the Cult of Osiris creates "The Perfect Man", though it's clear from the start he's not perfect, as he is completely lacking in mental development.
- Cockroaches. Or so popular culture would like you to believe. Just for an example, compare the hardiness of cockroaches, to that of scorpions. Both pale in comparison to tardigrades (mentioned below).
- The French Revolution replaced God with a "Supreme Being".
- Tardigrades, also known as "Water Bears", are notorious for being able to survive extreme conditions. To elaborate, they can withstand low temperatures close to absolute zero, high temperatures at 151 degrees celsius, and radiation (even more so than cockroaches), and can even survive for up to ten days in the vacuum of space (Heck, some of them even reproduced while in space). Even though every currently existing species has adapted the ability to survive in its surroundings, tardigrades survive in these conditions that go well beyond them (Although most in part thanks to cryptobiosis).
- Apparently, jellyfishes of the species Turritopsis nutricula are biologically immortal; although they can die of disease or being eaten, they are able to thwart dying of natural causes by periodically returning to the infant polyp stage. Theoretically, there could be T. nutricula in the oceans that have lived there since the species first evolved.
- The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci is thought of as a perfectly proportionate human body, so it's a "perfect human" in one way.
- Bacteria have been observed to survive dormant on the surface of the moon for over two years.
- One Discovery Channel program about dinosaurs had a paleontologist point out that even the biggest, strongest, fastest, healthiest Tyrannosaurus rex of all time would still be rated as a complete failure, by evolutionary standards, if it never managed to pass on its genes to another generation of T. rex babies. Evolution doesn't care about physical traits or abilities because only reproductive success matters to it. In other words, it would consider the ultimate lifeform to be the one most capable of reproducing.
- As animals have lived in the ocean much longer than they have on land, and as the ocean is less susceptible to environmental change than land, many species of animals in the ocean have remained more or less the same for very long times, even by evolutionary standards. These species have effectively reached a 'practical pinnacle' of evolution, where any deviation from the usual is almost guaranteed to be a step backwards in terms of the species reproducibility. This highlights the reality of any "perfect" organism, that it is only perfect within its niche.
- The Horseshoe Crab is an excellent macroscopic example of such living fossils; having remained mostly unchanged for the last 200 million years. Unfortunately it seems that they've finally met their match in Humans, who catch them for use in medical experiments, animal feed, and rather cruel-looking specialty recipes. Those, coupled with pollution and habitat destruction, horsecrab populations are declining.
- Sharks are another prominent example, not changing much in millions of years.
- While most prominent in sea life for the above reasons, it is not restricted to them. The concept of an 'Evolutionary Landscape' exists, with the idea that hills on this landscape represent a particular niche for a species to occupy, and that the peaks of these hills are a theoretical ideal form for that niche that a species may eventually evolve into, and from which they are likely to never evolve away from provided the environment doesn't change. However, as the evolution of other species is part of what effects the environment, it would take a great deal of time for land creatures to reach a state of equilibrium, even if the environment wasn't also subject to geographical changes that have nothing to do with biology, such as floods. This propensity for significant rapid change in environment on the land means that even if an animal does reach an evolutionary peak, they'll likely find it 'moved' somewhere else in a relatively short period of time.
- The Ginkgo tree is another living fossil that can be thought of as almost an Ultimate Life Form, in that it is hardy in a wide variety of climates, from cold mountains (the last wild population was from Tibet), has no insect pests, is virtually immune to most known plant diseases, and is extremely tolerant of air pollution. The Ginkgo's only problems as an Ultimate Life Form are that it has (compared to the flowering plants) a rather inefficient method of reproduction (in that male trees use the wind to send pollen to the female trees' exposed unfertilized ovaries), an extremely slow growth rate (a Ginkgo needs to be at least twenty years old before it will display sexual characteristics), and mildly toxic seeds that are protected by an apricot-like covering that has an abominable odor (depending on how ripe and which strain, the "fruit" can smell like stinky markers, or cat vomit) that are only attractive to brave squirrels.
- This article would not be complete without mention of the perfect predator. A lot of people don't realize that the human race has survived because we, while not the strongest, are cunning, extremely adaptable, fairly stealthy if we focus, and intelligent enough to build weapons such as guns or explosives. Look at the damage we have done. The things we kill are stronger, faster, more violent than us. The fact that you sitting at your computer can be that perfect predator, is quite frankly awesome to think about.
- Octopodes and other cephalopods. They're the closest thing to a shapeshifter we get in nature, able to change shape, skin texture, and color almost instantly to hide anywhere. They're insanely flexible, unusually intelligent for invertebrates, multi-limbed with Combat Tentacles, have underwater jet propulsion, and can disappear in a cloud of ink. If land octopodes weren't impossible (their soft bodies can't be supported out of water and they'd dry up pretty quickly) and didn't only live to be about two years old, octopodes would likely be competing with humans for the position of Earth's dominant life form.