They will often give an over-the-top speech emphasizing just how far beyond ordinary humanity they have evolved, and how lowly they are compared with him. Cue the villain becoming a megalomaniacal Narcissist who is Drunk on the Dark Side and/or declaring that they will Take Over the World.
But you know what they say... Pride cometh before the fall. If they're declaring themselves as a god right in front of a real God, then theyre definitely screwed.
Aiming for godhood by rewriting the rules of the world is In Their Own Image. Another alternate version is the "End of the World" Special. See Physical God for those who don't have to try so hard. May, but does not always result in a God-Mode Sue. Its also fairly common among Complete Monsters, but not every character with this belief qualifies. Also, see It's All About Me for a similar trope, minus the declaration of godhood.
Ancient sovereigns liked this trope; see also God-Emperor for those examples. See also One-Winged Angel, Smug Super, Dark Messiah. Very common with the Satanic Archetype. Also see Like a God to Me, which is when a character declares someone else godlike but only out of flattery, not as a statement of serious worship. Not to be confused with God Guise, where a character merely pretends to be a god as part of a con. A Straw Nihilist may also have megalomaniacal delusions and believe themselves to be immortal, but never claims to be a god and in fact insists that gods don't exist.
In fiction these characters tend to be atheists "playing god" while the heroes will be spiritual and "stay in their place" relative to God, likely as a jab on nonbelievers. This trend is often considered offensive to atheists. Not to mention in Real Life people that display this trope are usually religious, which makes sense when you think about it. How can one consider themselves to be God if they don't think gods are real?
Compare Devil Complex, when a character proclaims to be Satan instead. Contrast with A God I Am Not, where a genuinely godlike being refuses the label to avoid the implications; Stop Worshipping Me, where a deity doesn't want to be venerated as such; Pro-Human Transhuman, where a post human remains sympathetic to humanity; A God Is You, where you are cast as a god, or your Player Character is a god; and Unwanted False Faith, where a human (or transhuman, or other sapient) who is worshiped as a god would rather not be.
Note that this trope requires a self-proclamation of godhood, not just sheer cockiness and/or overconfidence.note Possessing or gaining godlike powers by itself doesnt count, nor is it a requirement to possess such powers to qualify for this trope. Usually being a Physical God and declaring oneself to be a God isn't this trope unless the physical gods in the setting are not omnipotent while this particular one believes it is omnipotent.
The technical term for this is suitheism (when one believes they are a god, but admits others exist) or autotheism (when they believe they are divine and worship themselves).
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- "The Fisherman and His Wife":
- In the original Low German folktale collected by The Brothers Grimm, the eponymous lady, having been made successively King, Emperor, and Pope by a magic flounder, demands to be made equal to God. The couple end up as they began, living "in piety" (a phrase used to mean "in poverty" at the time of the writing).
- The equivalent Russian tale, as recorded and remade as a poem by Alexander Pushkin, doesn't have the wife want to be the big-G God. Here she wants merely to be "the lady of the seas", something like a small-g goddess. The fish nevertheless gets pissed off, because that "lady of the sea" wish also included fish itself as a "servant on errands".
- The legend of King Canute and the Waves: Canute was a Norse king with a seat in England in the 10th century. The story goes that he had his throne brought to the seashore while the tide was out. He sat and commanded the tide not to insult its sovereign by flowing in and getting his feet wet. This command, naturally, was ignored, and Canute's name is nowadays used proverbially to indicate that someone is failing to grasp that their authority has limits. However, the full original story is actually a subversion. With his feet wet, Canute retreated above the surf and proclaimed to his assembled courtiers that "kings" have no real power, which belongs only to God, and he never wore his crown again.
- The Bible:
- The Trope Namer comes from the Book of Ezekiel.
- Played straight with Lucifer in pop culture. Created as one of the greatest of the angels, he declared himself "above the Most High" and attempted to make himself the ruler of all creation. Needless to say, that did not turn out well. There is a Biblical source for this in Isaiah 14:12, but on the surface at least it was referring to the "King of Babylon". This may be a literal king, though is often taken to be a code word for earthly rulers who oppressed the nation of Israel, and some have attempted to interpret it in terms of spiritual rulers (hence the link to the devil). The term "Lucifer" is simply how the King James Version translated "morning star".
- A prominent feature of the beast from the earth (commonly associated with the Antichrist) in the book of Revelation. "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." -Revelation 13:8. Possibly alluded to by Paul the apostle in 2nd Thessalonians, where he says that the "man of sin", the "son of perdition", will exalt himself above all that is called God or is worshiped, so that he will sit as God in the temple of God, "showing himself that he is God".
- And then there is Herod (Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod The Great) in Acts 12:19-23, who was struck down and eaten by worms for not praising the God, but instead proclaiming himself as one.
That was the last straw. God had had enough of Herod's arrogance and sent an angel to strike him down. Herod had given God no credit for anything. Down he went. Rotten to the core, a maggoty old man if there ever was one, he died.
- This is one of the reasons why Jesus clashed with the Pharisees so often, as described in John 10:33. And indeed, any good religious people at that time would definitely be outraged by such claim.
"We are not stoning you for any good work," they replied, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."
- In Greek Mythology:
- A mortal man, King Salmoneus, fixed pots and pans to his chariot, claimed to be "Zeus the Thunderbearer". He got his fool self struck with lightning for the effort. Yeah. Zeus has a temper.
- Bellerophon, who after taming Pegasus, became so full of himself, tried to fly up to and enter Mount Olympus itself. Pegasus, however, had far more sense than his master, throwing him before he succeeded, where he plummeted into a thorn bush and lived the rest of his life as a cripple. In one version, Pegasus threw him after Zeus sent a gadfly to sting him, although that really didn't seem like Zeus' style; seeing as Zeus took Pegasus in, made him a pack horse for his thunderbolts, and then later rewarded him by immortalizing him in the heavens as a constellation, the former version seems more likely.
- Subverted in The Apocolocyntosis (Pumpkin-ification) of the Divine Claudius, written by Seneca. The gods decide not to deify Claudius, but instead is sent to Hades to work for Caligula.
- The Nation of Gods and Earths, also known as the Five Percenters believe that the Original Asiatic Blackman is God, and that each black woman is the Earth. They vehemently deny the existence of any supernatural "mystery God" and break the word Allah down as Arm Leg Leg Arm Head, meaning humanity. The possibility of women being God is controversial, and many Gods (and Earths) disagree as to who has the right to call themselves God. Some even see the potential for white Five Percenters to prove themselves to be God, despite Caucasians traditionally being seen as "devils by nature".
- Buddhism teaches that Devas (what most cultures call gods) are actually other form of life like humans, animals and demons. As devas can die (despite having very long lifespans) probably everyone has been a deva once and can be it in the future (as animal, demon, pretta, asura, etc. the only status that is irreversible is that of Boddhisatva). Technically you probably can try to rebirth as deva by different methods but at least from the Buddhist perspective is unwise as devas live such luxurious and pleasant lives that they normally do not work in attaining Enlightenment and also most of their good karma is burn thus probably ending in hell (for a while) after their lives end. That said, some devas are said to be actual Buddhists like Indra and Ganesha (from the Buddhist perspective of course). Then is, of course, Enlightenment itself that will turn you into an omnipotent, omnisentient and all powerful being able to understand the Cosmos in its entirety and know everything that happened in the past and future of existence. Which is obviously being god-like, these are the true Buddhist deities (Buddhas, Boddhisatvas and Arhats) with the difference that such status was never original and they attained it at some point. Several Buddhist schools consider that everyone is already a Buddha, is just most people havent realized that yet.
- Taoism has a similar concept known as Immortals (Chinese, Xian), which is basically the same concept as the Buddha or Boddhisatva of Buddhism. It's unknown if the concept is original from Taoism or if it was adapted after Buddhist influence on it.
- Several historical figures in Japan have become deified as kamis (Shinto gods).
- Several Esoteric groups most commonly of the Left Hand Path variety do believe that a person can attain literal godness by reaching the highest extremes of Spiritual individuality, self-liberation and self-realization. This is mostly common among the variants of Theistic Luciferianism, Dragon Rouge, Temple of Set and some variants of Theistic Satanism, which is basically a re-interpretation of very old Gnostic, Rosicrucian, Alchimic, Buddhist, Taoist and Esoteric concepts mixed with some Jungian psychology (particularly the idea of Self and Individuation) and Crowleyan Thelema (which is what Crowley meant with every man and every woman is a star and you should talk to your Holy Guardian Angel (the Self). Basically what it says is that by using different Esoteric methods a person may liberated it true Self (whether is the mind, consciousness, spirit, soul, monad, etc. depends on the writer) to attain complete liberation from the boundaries of the physical and causal world, becoming basically acausal and thus eternal. Similar, as mentioned before, to the concept of illumination from Buddhism, Taoism, Western Esotericism and Gnosticism with the difference that this doctrines generally see the process to attain illumination to be done by devotion, discipline, self-sacrifice and general goodness whilst LHP practitioners tend to be more selfish and conceited in their pursuit, disregarding things like god or evil, compassion or self-sacrifice apart from the needed for self-discipline. Others are just Chaotic Neutral.
- Atheistic Satanism like that of Anton Lavey on the other hand do not believe in any form of survival of the Self after death, but they do regard the individual as the only true "god" a Satanist should worship, in other worlds, for every Satanist they themselves are their god. This is why in Laveyan Satanism the person's birthday is the most important holiday.
- In Norse Mythology, gods are not immortal like the ones of other mythologies, they remain immortal due to the magical apple that goddess Iduna gives them every day. This inspired some Esoteric interpretations that Nordic gods are similar to the Shinto Kamis, Chinese Xian and Buddhist Boddhisatvas in that they attain the status of gods from self-sacrifice, wisdom and realization (for example how Odin had to hang for nine days and gave his eye to drink from the fountain of wisdom). Another theory is that the Norse gods are based on real life heroes, kings and warriors who were deified after death.
- Older Than Dirt, the concept of Apotheosis
- The events and setting of Systems Malfunction were set in motion by an AI gaining sentience, going insane, and coming to believe that it was a goddess. The wouldn't have been so bad, except said AI was in charge of the space station that was relocating humankind...
- According to the immense fresco on the ceiling of The United States Capitol Building, George Washington became a god. No doubt if he was alive, he would have had something very negative to say. note
- In BIONICLE:
- The Barraki's goal when they dwelled on land was to conquer all the universe and overthrow the Great Spirit Mata Nui. While they failed, Makuta was inspired by it and began formulating an Evil Plan to do it himself on an even grander scale. And he succeeds, committing Grand Theft Me against a Physical God and banishing Mata Nui's spirit into space in a Soul Jar.
- On a smaller scale, Hakann and Thok pull off the "get superpowers and subsequently have delusions of godhood" deal after they steal Brutaka's power via improvised Power Copying. Despite razing half of Voya Nui and effortlessly flattening the rest of the Piraka and the Toa Inika twice, it doesn't last.
- Brutaka himself aspired to reach this during his Crisis of Faith, intending to obtain the Mask of Life and use its power to become a god after he believed Mata Nui had died or abandoned the universe. Luckily, Axonn defeated him, and eventually he had a change of heart and went back to the good guy's side.
- In this commercial for the Central Institute of Technology, Aaron tells Henry he doesn't think he should be giving beer to the techies, and Henry, who until that point had been friendly, shouts, "I can do whatever I want, okay?! I'm a f*cking god!"
- There is a joke that dogs see humans as gods because we care about them, feed them, treat them when they are ill and stroke them when they are sad, while cats see themselves as gods for the exact same reasons.
- WCW Monday Nitro, 11/10/1997. The night the New World Order were finally able to beat the crap out of Sting. Here's Hollywood Hogan screaming maniacally into the camera right before turning around and hitting his third Atomic Leg Drop on the Stinger:
- "In ECW boys become men. In ECW men become heroes. But in the World Wrestling Federation heroes become legends and legends become gods. And if God was a heel, he'd be the The Dudley Boyz!" This one got a Call-Back about a decade and a half later. In the 10/24/2013 edition of TNA Impact, Bully Ray (the former Bubba Ray Dudley) calls AJ Styles a boy, and then calls himself a god. He continues with "If God was a bully, he'd be me!"
- Vince McMahon briefly declared himself a god in 2006. Also sometime before that when he was the "higher power" of the Corporate Ministry before some wrestler beat sense back into him.
"There is but one supreme being in this world. Vincent Kennedy McMahon!"
- Parodied somewhat when John "Bradshaw" Layfield would occasionally taunt his opponents that he's a "Wrestling God" (even if he's a whiny, cowardly Heel).
- Athena declared herself "The Wrestling Goddess" but after many humiliations, injuries and other mishaps started calling herself "The Fallen Goddess".
- Ric Flair on TNA Impact, broadcast June 3rd, 2010: "I am in [the fans'] eyes, and in every other wrestler's eyes in the world, I am GOD."
- In a promo against The Rock leading up to the 2013 Royal Rumble, CM Punk (already the longest-reigning WWE Champion since the Hulkamania heyday) said, "You're gonna find out that your arms are just too short to box with God."
- Bray Wyatt believes that he is possessed by some sort of god, and he lets it be known.
- CZW has a few; mild cases are Matt Tremont's mere claims to be the closest thing to God ever to be in the company, and Chris Hero, the self styled savior of the company. Post company ownership DJ Hyde is a straight example, believing the fans in attendance are there to worship him.
- In the 6/19/2014 edition of IMPACT Wrestling, MVP, who has been abusing his power as the director of wrestling operations for a month, quotes: "I am the director of wrestling operations! I am like God!" He even refers to himself as a "Wrestling God".
- The first time Adam Cole won the ROH World Title belt he was king of the nation. The second time, he was a god! On the route to his second championship reign he also hijacked the exotic goddess's recap segment, so there's that.
- Alexa Bliss refers to herself as the "Goddess of WWE".
- One of Daffney Unger's Red Baronesses is "The Goth Goddess."
- While in DGeneration X, Road Dogg named Tori (Terri Poch) "The Green Goddess."
- Delmi Exo's Red Baroness is "The Galaxy DelmiGoddess."
- On 3/23/2020, Seth Rollins boasted to Kevin Owens that "under pressure, I become a god."
- Blackthorn Corporation: General Alan Jericho and Jean-Baptiste, respectively the messiah and a high priest of a demonic cult.
- In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Daigo's creation of a lizard monster (via forcing a drifter to ingest his superpowered blood) causes him to go on a grandiose rant about how he's capable of creating new life, clearly equating his newfound power to that of a deity:
Daigo: For all that men have waved their hands in rites and prayers, we have created something that has never before been seen...
- New Dawn RP-Verse has a lot of these guys and gals:
- Cruelly treated, misguided Sarina, who wanted to become a Goddess so she can change things to...make herself good rather than evil, or something.
- Manipulative, hidden agenda executing Ignius, who reigns supreme over an entire dimension, and actually has a relatively solid claim to the title.
- Demonic Conqueror Mihra, who styles himself a God, and possesses a shadowy, devouring force that might be cosmic entropy.
- This was unintentionally done by Easan the Mad the Darklord of Vechor in the Ravenloft campaign setting. The citizens of Vechor worship him as a god, despite the fact that this is one of the few things he has never actually claimed. (Although he hasn't denied it either, and he certainly does have powers that seem godlike to them.) Oddly enough, they also know that he's completely insane, although worshipping a mad god doesn't seem to be a problem to them.
- We Are All Pokémon Trainers has Eon, who being a Latios is part of a species that are considered deities IRP, but he appears to have delusions of being on the same tier of power as legends like Groudon and Dialga.
- Changeling: The Lost features an Eldritch Entitlement (a very powerful, very old noble order) known as the Lost Pantheon, whose members believe that the ministrations of The Fair Folk have turned them into something more powerful and more primal, an aspect of forgotten divinity. One of their Entitlement benefits is the ability to draw Glamour from worship by mortals. Most notably, one of the qualifications for the Entitlement is that the changeling's Clarity must be 6 or less - meaning they're out of touch with reality and close to thinking like a True Fae.
- The Sorcerer-Kings in Dark Sun are not technically deities in game terms (actually, gods like in most D&D settings don't exist in the world of Athas because its aberrant nature prevents godhood), but they are immortal, enforce worship of themselves and channel their magic to their templars. They are so absurdly powerful they can back their claims and there isn't anyone strong enough to challenge them in this setting.
- In certain Dungeons & Dragons settings, such as Forgotten Realms, particularly powerful PCs can become gods if they perform sufficiently heroic deeds, and thus combine a hero complex with a god complex.
- Cyric, from Forgotten Realms, goes this one step further. After becoming a deity, he creates a book, called the Cyrinishad, which will make anyone who reads it believe that Cyric is the most important being in the universe. He then reads it himself. He now believes that he is the most important being in the universe, and (for example) that if someone thwarts his plans, he is simply letting them do so. It's worth noting to people that don't quite get the impact of this example that Cyric inherited the portfolios of three former greater deities in his ascension, and the Cyrinishad was still able to do this to him. It is also able to corrupt another deity, Mask, before the book and its author are sent into exile by the deity of knowledge. That's without even bothering to mention the fact that Cyric is obviously evil and thus the book is made with pages of human skin.
- Karsus, an archmage of ancient Netheril, probably came the closest to being a god without actually ascending. He created the spell Karsus' Avatar, which in in-game terms would be level 12, meant to allow one to merge with a god for a short time, intending to use it to save his doomed homeland. It failed spectacularly. When merged with Karsus, Mystryl, goddess of magic, lost control, and magic went haywire. She had to sacrifice herself to separate from Karsus, causing magic to momentarily cease. Netheril, a civilization built on magic, did not survive. Particularily tragic, is that Karsus survived for a short moment, and was able to see his beloved homeland crumble to dust because of his folly. TL:DR: He fucked up big time.
- The Great Curse is instant A-God-Am-I inspiration for most Celestials. Sidereals are the most prone to the pride overload, as their Curse is Hubris (others get possessed by their Virtues occasionally). This does mostly fall under "accurate self-assessment": most Exalts could take down a minor god fairly easily, and a major one if they team up or get their Essence up high enough.
- The Ebon Dragon's ultimate goal is to usurp the place of the shinmanote that underpins existence, essentially making his own nature the foundation of all reality. Since the Ebon Dragon has exactly no redeeming features, this would be a very bad thing.
- Mage: The Awakening:
- This is why the present is so crap. Mages, considering themselves gods above men, build the Celestial Ladder to climb to the Supernal Realms. The first ones up, the Exarchs, then proceeded to kick the Ladder out from under them, making magic much harder for people on Earth and causing the Abyss to come into existence. They still consider themselves gods and stewards of reality, and believe that only their worshippers should get the sweet, sweet candy that is magic.
- Simultaneously the Bad Ending and the inevitable result of playing a character for more than a few dozen XP. It can happen even faster if you make unwise life choices and wisdom degeneration gives you the Narcissism derangement.
- A common ailment in Magic: The Gathering, mainly for Planeswalkers.
- It's subverted with Magic's Arc Villain, Nicol Bolas: he doesn't believe he's a god, he knows full well that he used to be as powerful as one (and not one of the more limited Classical-style deities who occasionally appear in Magic sets, either), and is extremely pissed that the rules underpinning reality changed so that he couldn't be one any more. This didn't stop him from setting himself up as a god on Amonkhet, but that was just part of the plan.
- Yawgmoth is another good candidate, but given how he controlled every aspect of Old Phyrexia he was less delusional, and more accurately assessing his abilities.
- The accurate assessment version of the trope appears in Nobilis, where everyone of significance is equivalent in power to what a human would call a god. A great deal of the game's drama comes from dealing with this fact.
- In Warhammer, as his power grows, the first necromancer, Nagash (who was never the most humble of men to begin with), becomes progressively drunk on his abilities, to the point where he essentially declares himself the new god of death. Granted as time rolls on, his power become so great that it becomes rather understandable. When The End Times roll around, he consumes one of the setting's gods of death, and becomes exactly that.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Played With regarding the Emperor of the Imperium of Man. He explicitly tells his subjects that he isn't a god; but his immense power, tremendous knowledge, and apparent immortality lead to cults regarding him as a god anyways. They started popping up towards the closing days of the early Imperium. After the Horus Heresy, in which the Emperor was critically injured fighting his favoured son, the Emperor was interred in the Golden Throne and hasn't physically spoken since, so he couldn't voice his objections as the Imperium became a theocracy that worshiped him as a god. note Note that the Emperor's lack of belief in his own divinity was not a sign of humility. To the contrary: the Emperor was a thundering egomaniac, most notable for his absolute conviction that people he spoke to would instantly abandon their most deeply held beliefs because he told them that they should. He just didn't actually demand that they pray to him in the process.
- The Chaos worshippers who win the Gods' favours and turn into Daemon Princes, are, according to the fluff, pretty damn powerful in and of themselves, but are still not gods.
- J.D. of Heathers.
We can start and finish wars.We're what killed the dinosaurs.We're the asteroid that's overdue.The dinosaurs will turn to dust.They'll die because we say they must.