- Egyptian Mythology
- Anubis in more modern times. He wasn't that central to the original canon, but he's so much more interesting than the chief gods like Ra or Osiris. Also, it's hard to find a death god who's an okay guy. Also, he appeals more to Furries.
- Bastet was a relatively minor goddess back in the day, but she's one of the most popular now. Why? She's the cat goddess and the internet can't get enough of cats.
- Medjed, an even more obscure, minor deity mentioned in the Book of the Dead, has spawned a huge popularity in Japan after an illustration of him was placed on display at a museum on Tokyo. Medjed appears to be a cartoonish figure covered in a sheet with only the eyes and feet showing, resembling a type of mascot character. Cue many illustrations of a bed sheet with a pair of legs and comical eyes firing laser beams appearing on the internet.
- Heqet and Kek were even more minor, but they, or rather their animal motifs (frogs) became immensely popular when 4chan hijacked and made a meme out of Pepe the Frog.
- The same could be said for Hades (minus the furry part), who is another example of a god associated with death who was actually an okay guy. The Ancient Greeks were rather wary of him, naturally, but in modern times he gets a lot more appreciation... that is, if you are not Disney or Hollywood. This could be because he is a classic case of Dark Is Not Evil mixed with The Woobie, and/or because he was one of the only gods in the Pantheon who wasn't a complete jerk.
- Disney tried to make Hades unlikeable. Thankfully, they failed, and the movie was that much better for this "failure."
- Hephaestus has become this nowadays. His main flaw (his hideous looks) makes him seem to be more of a Woobie than back in Ancient Greece, when he would have been viewed as repulsive, plus, as with Hades, he's downright saintly next to his uncles, aunts, and cousins.
- It doesn't hurt that his purview includes 'technology'.
- Honestly, this goes for most old-school gods associated with death. The actual ancients were generally cool with them, then with the rise of Christianity everything was interpreted by people who weren't followers of these old gods and so often judged them on their job and appearance, though currently we seem to be moving back to the older interpretations. Hades was one of the three big Greek gods and no worse than Zeus (the most feared was likely Poseidon, given that they were a seafaring culture), Charon is just a dude doing a job, the valkyries and the Morrigan are totally hot or basically celestial accountants, we now actually remember that most "death gods" had other aspects (Hades was married to the goddess of spring, etc). It was actually gods like Thor, a drunkard and a rapist, who were the real assholes.
- Classical Mythology
- Dionysus was another of those really popular gods. Whereas with other gods they tended to at least know what their names meant (Herakles = Glory of Hera, for example), with Dionysus they just knew he was related to Zeus somehow (Dios) and maybe something about a mountain named Nysa? Or a nymph or something? Fuck it. His worship was drunken orgies and they got so popular the Roman Senate had to ban them except by special dispensation and the ban was ignored. Bacchanals FTW!
- Ares/Mars was a very unpopular god for the Greeks, but the Romans claimed to be his descendants. It is worth noting that despite widespread modern misinterpretations, the Roman gods were not exact analogues of the Greek gods. Ares/Mars is a particularly notable case, as the Greeks saw Ares as the god of brutal warfare, while the Romans saw Mars as the god of warfare for the defense and spread of civilization. He even had an agricultural aspect leftover from an earlier Etruscan god and the fact that early Roman soldiers were basically drafted farmers. Some modern adaptations of Greek mythology also feature Ares in a much more positive light.
- So long as you're not counting God of War as a "modern adaptation"... which it isn't.
- So we're clear, when Homer referred to Ares he did so in almost the exact same terms as he did Scylla (of "and Charybdis" fame): Kukleion Athanaton. Evil Undying.
- Both Sun Wukong and Hanuman got a disproportionate amount of attention, so much so that the former is now considered the main character of his story. The relationship between the two is interesting, but it's no surprise that they fill this role as they both get their fair share of badass moments. And of course, Everything's Better with Monkeys.
- Budai, a figure in Chinese folklore, often revered as a deity in Buddhism, is probably THE most popular Buddhist deity in western countries. While he is sometimes considered a bodhisattva, people with little to no knowledge of Buddhism often mistake him for THE Buddha. Chances are if you see a statue or other representation of a Buddha in fiction, it will be this plump bald man with a big smile.
- The Bible:
- Satan is known throughout the world as God's nemesis and who's name is synonymous with evil, even though he's only mentioned offhandedly in most verses,his origin is not explained until the final book of the Bible,and even that origin has been debated.
- An In-Universe example, so to speak: Melchizedek is a Priest King who appears once in the Book of Genesis to bless Abraham (then called Abram) and give him food. He gets only one other Old Testament mention, a quick Shout-Out in Psalms, and that's pretty much it (as far as scriptural references go) for a few hundred years. However, the writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews apparently saw a lot of potential in the character, as he dedicated an extensive section of his own book to discussing the ways in which Melchizedek served as a forerunner and model for another important Priest King, Jesus Christ.
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