This is a character who is godlike, yet dislikes the comparison and firmly identifies themself as a mortal. They may be a godlike Flying Brick a la Superman, a Reality Warper like Doctor Manhattan, a Physical God like Tom Bombadil, a Sufficiently Advanced Alien like the Doctor, or someone who somehow got the powers and duties of an actual god. The crux of their rationale is usually that they are still mortal, human, and terrestrial in enough ways that they don't want to make the claim. Maybe they still think in mortal terms about time and morality and aren't a Time Abyss or Above Good and Evil. Maybe they don't want the responsibility all that power entails. Maybe they worship a real god; proving they aren't one, or don't want to disrespect them. Then again, it may just be the thought of being actively worshipped that's squicky to them.
Where this gets interesting is when a character who fits all the criteria for a god (and may even be one in the setting's cosmology) still chooses not to think of themselves that way because it would drive them mad. With all that power Samaritan Syndrome could make them take responsibility for EVERY bad thing that happens. On the other end, power corrupts, and the Pride in claiming godhood might make them evil. Then again, they could develop a Blue-and-Orange Morality from the sheer alien experience of it and grow divorced from their mortal roots, which they adamantly oppose.
Generally, this character is someone who can be trusted not to let omnipotence go to their head, and may even actively seek to get Depowered or pass on the mantle because it's too much of a hassle. Usually this character was at one point a mortal who got Super Empowered into the job, though an actual god may take this position out of disdain for their peers' Jerkass Gods behavior.
See also Humble Hero. See also Unwanted False Faith, when a regular Joe becomes the target of religious adoration and is firmly opposed to it. Not quite the Opposite Trope of A God Am I; the latter only requires a god complex and not genuine god-like powers.
Not to be confused with The Anti-God.
- Eris from Cat Planet Cuties finds herself being worshipped by the cult The Underside of the Kitten's Paw (a group of people who just really adore cats), due to her real cat ears and tail. Her two commands as their "Divine Embodiment" are to stop worshipping her and to live their own lives.
- Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena is the Rose Bride: the immortal or possibly undying holder of the all-powerful Sword of Dios. She just wants to be a normal girl and is generally depressed about being the Rose Bride. In truth, her pain runs far deeper than that. And it's up to Utena to actually help her get free... and ultimately succeeds.
- Medaka from Medaka Box. Numerous characters including her siblings remark on her being the pinnacle of perfection. Yet she sees herself as just another flawed being (which admittedly is true) though this may be through a desire to convince herself of that rather than anyone else.
- This gets played with when, due to her continuously escalating power set due to her All Your Powers Combined ability, she begins to be more and more isolated from everyone else, and begins to deal with everything herself. Then her best friend and Love Interest has to convince her that this is dumb and no one wants her to be some perfect inhuman helper because they all love her for her.
- Zig-zagged in Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack. On the one hand, people often refer to Black Jack as 'the surgeon with the hands of God'; but on the other many of this series' stories revolve around how doctors can't fix everything, and that even the most brilliant surgeon in the world can occasionally lose patients to arbitrary causes.
- Yurie from Kamichu! is completely unassuming and seems vaguely uncomfortable about the obligations of her new divine status.
- The Lyrical Nanoha franchise has the clone of the last Sankt Kaiser, Vivio Takamachi, who is quite insistent about being a normal little girl despite her origins (or at least, as normal as a girl in a setting where Everyone is a Super could be). For their part, the Saint Church officially treats her as the descendant of their Christ figure and not the Christ figure herself, though there are those who don't see it that way.
- Downplayed in Angel Beats!; Tenshi/Angel says she's not an angel. It's true, Kanade Tachibana is a human just like protagonists.
- The Silver King, Adolf K. Weismann, in K never wanted to be the most powerful and only immortal King, and is uncomfortable with being revered as such. Several of the Kings have this to some extent, but he fits the most, as he is the only one that some people think of as a god.
- Dragon Ball:
- In Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and Dragon Ball Super, during his time as a Super Saiyan God, Goku admits to Beerus that he is dissatisfied with godhood. However, this is more his disappointment at being unable to reach godhood by himself rather than disliking the prospect of it. In Resurrection 'F' he again denies having any interest in obtaining deific status: he just wants to become stronger.
- Whis, despite having power far greater than most gods in the Dragon Ball universe, has denied being a god whenever someone asks him. He's later described by the Kais as an angel.
- Downplayed in Rosario + Vampire. Tsukune Aono has been beaten to a pulp multiple times, injected with enough vampire blood to make Alucard cry, chained with a holy lock post-ghouldom, stabbed in the vitals three times, trained by Inner Moka until even Koko admits his kata is getting good, partially vampirized, infused with Instant Runes, and sent to attack Fairy Tale. Physical feats include shielding his friends from monstrel appendages of various sizes (ranging from elastic human to draconian), holding back an Inner-Moka doppelganger with his bare hands, grabbing a phoenix by the beak, and ordering a yoko "Out of my way, Kuyo. Or I'll slay you where you stand." And yet he refuses to call himself a vampire. He is human, and he will always acknowledge himself as human. Ultimately subverted when his roller-coaster ride ends with him at the pinnacle of monsterhood: a shinso. Thankfully, his experience (both his own and those of his friends and the Reasonable Authority Figures in the school) tempers his power and gives him something important: perspective. He joins the school's cause to bridge the human/monster divide.
- During the final battle of Soul Eater, Asura (who considers humans weak insignificant scum) comments on Black☆Star's incredible strength, saying he could well be considered a 'warrior god'. Black☆Star, however, refuses the god title, saying that he is a human that surpasses gods. Kid comes to this conclusion and sides with humanity out of a desire to compromise with mortals rather than rule over/terrorise/otherwise abuse them as several of his fellows had done.
- In Haruhi Suzumiya, Haruhi herself is theorized to be God and the creator of the universe by at least one of the espers she empowered. That's not the trope (she's completely unaware of her powers), that's the context. This trope comes up when another esper thinks a completely different person (Kyon's old friend Sasaki) is God. Unlike Haruhi, this person is perfectly aware of how others see her but doesn't see herself as particularly divine. She's very easy-going though, so she doesn't really make a fuss about it one way or another.
- Solomon from Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic wielded such awe-inspiring power that the non-human species he liberated from his father King David started to worship him as their god. Solomon did not approve (to the point of smashing the statues they build in his name).
- Souji (as Tail Red) in Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!! is accused by Isuna that with all the merchandise and the worship he gets because of his divine twintails, s/he might as well be a god. Souji denies this and only thinks of himself as a protector of twintails. Yes, it's that kind of series and all of it is Played for Laughs.
- Holo from Spice and Wolf is a Physical Goddess in "mostly" human form (her true form being that of a wolf the size of a bus). She keeps insisting that she's no god though as she dislikes the way she's treated by those who fear or worship her, and she would much prefer to be treated the same as anyone else.
- Discussed at the end of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, at which point Simon has gained so much Spiral Power he could certainly be considered god-like in some respects. Gimmy suggests Simon use his Spiral Power to resurrect Nia, but the idea is shot down because, powerful though he may be, Simon is not a god and should not go around trying to act like one. Simon insists on living a humble life as an anonymous wanderer, helping people out with their little day-to-day problems wherever he goes.
- In One Piece, Mr. 2 Bon Clay describes Emporio Ivankov as a miracle worker who's saved the lives of people who were at the brink of death and even whole countries. When they meet in person, Ivankov flat out denies being any sort of divine being, and that the lives he saved were just those who could force their bodies to recuperate thanks to his healing hormones.
- A recurring thematic element in Mob Psycho 100 is the protagonists' belief that being an Esper doesn't make you inherently superior to anyone else. Most of the antagonists have to have his ideal beaten into them, turning into better people.
- Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan is the only superhero in the setting who explicitly has superpowers, the result of a lab experiment gone wrong. He's pretty much a Physical God who becomes increasingly detached from humanity, but he refuses to label himself as a god when people make the comparison.
- The Marvel 1602 counterpart of Thor is quite adamant about not being a god, because his human form, Donal, is the Grand Master of the Knights Templar.
- Superman has been the recipient of worship, and even the odd church or two set up in his name. He's been described as an angel on a number of occasions. This makes him very uncomfortable, though his discouragement has often times only increased the faith of his followers. Batman's file on Superman in Justice in the supplementary materials states that Superman is a god, but thankfully doesn't think of himself as one. This is a common thread whenever Batman internally monologues about Superman, such as in the Public Enemies arc of Superman/Batman, and the two are on good terms, Bruce describing Clark in terms that would match up alongside almost any god of myth and then contrasting it with Clark's humility. Meanwhile, Kingdom Come makes the comparison between Superman and a wrathful god, with the book's POV character being a small-town preacher.
- In Supergirl story "Hero Worship" the titular heroine has to talk the faithful of a "Church of Supergirl" out of believing her to be a divine being.
- In Trinity (2008), Alfred Pennyworth and his allies are initially mistaken for gods by the inhabitants of a parallel reality because they look right like their gods, speak their language and two of them — Supergirl and Wonder Girl — display amazing abilities. Alfred dissuades them as soon as possible.
- Green Lantern Kyle Rayner dealt with this when he absorbed the power of the Green Lantern Corps and his dead girlfriend Jade. He decided to return the power to a new power battery and restart the Corps rather than be all powerful.
- Batman Black and White: In "Guardian", Batman meets the original Green Lantern, the one whose powers come from magic rather than alien super-science, and asks him why he retired and left Gotham, his home city, to decay into the Vice City that Batman is struggling to protect. Green Lantern explains that as he became more adept with his ring's powers, he discovered that they were effectively unlimited; he could do anything with just a thought (including, in this story, putting out a raging fire in moments, instantaneous teleportation, and transporting himself and Batman back in time to prevent a murder that they have already seen the results of). When he found himself thinking that with his powers he could reshape the world and eliminate evil, he decided it was time to put the ring down and back away.
Green Lantern: Just the fact that I was considering it... scared the hell out of me. I had to get back to earth. Rediscover what it was like to struggle for something, instead of wishing it into existence. I love this city. I do. But it needed a guardian, not a god.
- During The Clone Saga, in one encounter with Judas Traveler, Spider-Man goes postal on him and shouts that he's "not God"; Traveler quickly responds by saying that he is not. As Spider-Man eventually learns, Traveler doesn't have godlike powers, or even come close; he simply has the power to alter people's perceptions so that they believe he does. Of course, Spider-Man has met the One-Above-All - the actual God of the Marvel Universe. So he would know.
- Galactus doesn't seem to consider himself a god, despite his ego. He even told Sphinx in no uncertain terms that he isn't a god and criticized the mortal belief that power makes you one. Though virtually no one knows it, Galactus Was Once a Man, the only mortal survivor from the previous universe who was eventually reborn in the current universe as Galactus.
"Sphinx! You share the folly of all your lowly species. You believe that power itself makes one a God! But even Galactus, to whom all is possible, even Galactus whose every passing whim becomes reality — even Galactus is no God."
- In one X-Men annual, Wolverine acquires godlike power by touching the Macguffin of the story. Though he spends a moment Drunk with Power, he quickly comes to the realization that he has no right to use that power on anyone, even with the "noblest" of motives/justifications, and gives it up by destroying the item. (See the quotes page.)
- A variant in Tron: Ghost in the Machine. Jet realizes what being a User means in the context of that universe, and does not handle the revelation well. One of the opening scenes shows him hunkered down in his Honorary Uncle's shuttered arcade, afraid to even touch a computer. Finding out humanity coded up an entire Servant Race of AIs by pure accident is bad enough, but it's even more justified because his trip to cyberspace was all about stopping greedy and vicious humans from exploiting and enslaving the Programs.
- Gorr the God-butcher from The Mighty Thor is a very dark example. He started out as a poor mortal who hated gods because his world's gods were Jerkass Gods (though it's implied it's actually a case of Have You Seen My God?). After acquiring All Black the Necrosword, an incredibly powerful divine blade of darkness, he became a Physical God capable of wiping out entire pantheons by himself. Despite the fact that his possession of the sword essentially turned him into a god, he despises gods so much that being called one is his Berserk Button. Ironically, it's heavily implied that the reason his world's Gods stopped answering prayers and let the world fall into ruin was that they were massacred by the last holder of the Necrosword, whose corpse Gorr takes the Necrosword from and kills the badly wounded survivor, never realizing that he's simply restarting the cycle again.
- Black Moon Chronicles: When Wismerhill asks Methraton if he is a god, Methraton vehemently denies it as he hates the actual gods. He's more of an archmage with his own religion devoted to him.
- Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: "Hala was not a god. Hala was a Kree that thought that innocent life was worth saving."
- A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script: Elven prince Finrod is forced to tell his Aman relatives the story of how he met the Men and they mistook him for one of the Valar, emphasizing that he tried to disillusion them as quickly as possible.
- In Earthsong9405's headcanons the immortal Celestia and Luna routinely deny being goddesses, but everyone still sees them as demigods nevertheless.
- Fractured: The representative of the Trans-Galactic Republic insists neither he (as the personification of the Trans-Galactic Republic) nor the government itself are gods/godlike, a presumption thrust upon them due to vast technological superiority (Destroying the Reapers tends to win applause.)
- Hellsister Trilogy: Highfather isn't comfortable with being called a "New God" by Earth people.
Izaya rumbled, "That is the phrase some of our younger ones used for the capital city of our world. As for Forever People', it is simply a term Orion once used in derision towards Moonrider's family group, which they adopted. Just as we are known among some of your kind as... 'New Gods'." Highfather looked discomfited by the phrase.
- The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13: Link feels this way after reclaiming his godhood, preferring to retain his mortal mindset (and family). He hates the flippancy of the other gods, especially his three aunts, and refuses to behave the way they do. Much later in the story he finally embraces the orderly, precise mindset of a god — but makes it clear that he can go back and forth between the two at will.
- Nobody Dies: In the side story Six AI's, One Continent, the Reego (or at the very least Una) are not entirely pleased with the humans they've been rescuing and looking after forming a cult and worshipping them. Except for Tres, who milks this for all it's worth with a race of sapient arachnids who mistook her for a god.
- The Immortal Game: Pops up near the end when Twilight taps into the full power of the Elements of Harmony during the Battle of Canterlot, and acknowledges to herself that she's become a Physical God... and she's horrified by the concept, stating that no pony should have that much power.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Haruhi Suzumiya finds out that she is a Reality Warper with nigh limitless power, but she is horrified by the possibility of accidentally destroying all of reality with a careless thought. She authorizes Yuki and Kyon to act as a control to restrain what she can do. She later finds out that that's not enough, and willingly gives herself a memory block to keep her from remembering what she's actually capable of. In effect, she gives up her godlike power and contents herself with limited telekinesis.
- In Denial We Trust, a Discworld fanfic, shows what happens when a really suspicious copper gets caught between his own cynicism, the people he taught to be suspicious, and the Disc's tendency to create new gods if there's enough people believing, even if it's in the cover-up...
- The God Empress of Ponykind: Played with; Celestia is uneasy about ponies worshiping her, fearing that it will get to her head and she'll be no better than the Gods of Chaos. However, she does not outright discourage it, because doing so was one of the reasons the Horus Heresy happened.
- Rites of Ascension: Celestia and Luna are extremely insistent on not being worshipped and deny being physical gods. History has provided them with some fairly convincing reasons as to why.
- In Savage Skies, The Cult Solar worships Celestia as a god. Celestia isn't very happy about it, especially since they demonize Luna at the same time.
- The Wanderer of the North: When Evergreen tells Nikóleva of her and the Gods' alike appearances, Nikóleva insists that she isn't. In fact, earlier on from the previous chapter, Celestia (who used to be Nikoleva) feels that the fact that ponies see and worship her as any form of deity is blasphemous for her.
- Triptych Continuum: The Alicorn Princesses know that they aren't gods and try (and fail) to convince other ponies of the same. Every time ponies pray to them, it's like a punch in the gut. Heartbreakingly demonstrated in "Blessing".
- In Child of the Storm, this is a defining character trait for Harry. As the son of Thor, he is literally a demigod and is constantly growing in power to the point of potentially being one of the most powerful gods of all (and even if plenty of other gods will have more raw power, he's got a wider variety). However, even he is disturbed at how powerful he already is, and spends a long time in denial about just what his new situation means. Even then, he's still uncomfortable with the thought of being worshiped. This is best shown during the climax of the first book's Final Battle, when Chthon attempts to pull a Grand Theft Me on him, offering him enough power to reshape reality to his whim. Harry responds by telling him to stuff it, and banishing him from reality.
"I never wanted power. I never wanted to be god. And I am done playing."
- Oversaturated World: This is Sunset's position. A running gag has her beating her face against something whenever the religion that worships her pulls something particularly stupid.
- The Keys Stand Alone: In The Soft World, Ringo vehemently denies being a god several times after the mine-robbers refer to him and the others that way. Given the amount of power they displayed during this short encounter, it's not an unreasonable assumption on the robbers' part.
- What In Heaven involves others worshipping Elsa as a Skaði due to her ice powers. Elsa is especially unnerved since she's Lutheran. Elsa, however, can't exactly tell people to stop worshipping her because Arendelle is known for its religious tolerance. So, she just has to bear it and simply try to dissuade people from worshipping her.
- Twinkle, Twinkle Little Starfire is a Teen Titans fanfic where a new denomination of Christianity is started based around Starfire, who is an alien. They worship Starfire as an angelic figure.
- In What Might Have Been, some early humans come to see Rose as a goddess, one situation involving a human couple asking her to heal their baby of its blindness.
- Caligula: Caligula's predecessor and uncle, Tiberius, firmly rejected the tradition of deifying deceased emperors despite being as mad as his nephew — he did not consider himself a god, nor did he think that Caesar and Augstus became such beings.
Tiberius: It is fate that rules us, Little Boots, not any god.
Caligula: You are a god.
Tiberius: No, I'm not! Not even when I'm dead.
Caligula: Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, they are gods.
Tiberius: So says the senate, and so the people prefer to believe. Such myths are useless.
- In Thor: The Dark World, Loki declares that he deserved to rule the humans as he is a god. Odin declares that while the Asgardians are powerful, they are not gods.
Odin: We are born, we live, and we die, just as humans do.
Loki: Give or take five thousand years...
- Monty Python's Life of Brian had the titular Brian mistaken to be true Messiah, to which his "followers" are oblivious.
Brian: (to crowd following him) Now fuck off!!!
Person: (solemnly) How shall we fuck off, O Lord?
- In Return of the Jedi C3PO at first objects to the Ewoks worshiping him or pretending he's a god, as doing so does not fit his programming. (Luke convinces him to fib a little, and after he uses some Force powers to emulate divine might, they're able to peacefully align themselves with the tribe.)
- Airplane!: Played for Laughs in the LA Spanish dub as a Woolseyism adapted from the famous "don't call me Shirley" quote.
Ted: God, you can't be serious!
Rumack: I am serious, and I am not God.
- The legend of King Canute and the Waves qualifies, as long as you don't forget the Aesop at the end. 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 original story continues. 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 Silmarillion: When Elven Prince Finrod met the Race of Men they mistook him for one of the Valar (they had met elves earlier, but they were not like the Light Elves). Finrod disillusioned them as soon as he was capable to, explaining that he was not a Vala but an elf, the Valar lived beyond the Western Ocean, and the only (ex)-Vala in the vicinity was trouble.
- Just because Matthew Swift came back from the dead supercharged and full of Electric Blue Angels does not mean he's anything like God. Please stop asking.
- The Eschaton, from Charles Stross's The Eschaton Series, is an AI that is distinctly god-like but is definitely not a god. It even says that it is not god. (It would probably help if it didn't choose to say this by engraving "I am not your God" in big letters on a series of giant monuments that magically appeared on planets throughout the galaxy, though).
- Brandon Sanderson:
- Lightsong from Warbreaker is a Returned, a person who died and got raised from the dead by some unknown force, the Returned are worshiped as gods by people in the country of Hallandren, where the story takes place, but Lightsong doesn't see things that way. (Until the end of the story, at least, when he discovers the truth about himself.)
- In Wax and Wayne, part of Harmony's sacred book that sets forth his religion is an explicit prohibition against actually worshiping Harmony. Of course, if you've read the original Mistborn trilogy, you'll know that this is because Harmony is Sazed. On the other hand, Harmony's sacred book also requires believers to meditate regularly while wearing an earring. While this is technically not prayer, anyone who's read The Hero of Ages will recognize this as an act of communion with a higher power. And on the third hand, it is explained in the same passage that you "worship" Harmony by doing good deeds and improving the world, and traditional worship is banned in part because it is a waste of time that could be better spent.
- The Stormlight Archive: The ten divine Heralds of the Almighty are often worshiped, either as God's chosen servants (which is accurate enough) or as gods themselves (which is not). Shallash, as part of her Sanity Slippage, has been defacing all religious artwork of herself in an effort to keep people from worshiping her.
- Related to Stormlight, several of the characters have asked Wit if he is a Herald. He's not, and he's not a god either, but he is far older and far more powerful than pretty much anyone in the Cosmere besides the Shards themselves.
Shallan: Are you one of them? Are you a Herald, Wit?
Wit: Heavens no. I'm not stupid enough to get mixed up in religion again. The last seven times I tried it were all disasters. I believe there's at least one god still worshiping me by accident.
- Borderline example in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, where Percy is offered godhood as thanks for saving Olympus from the Titans but turns it down, instead asking that the Gods recognize all of their Half-Blood children.
- In Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper trilogy, but in Mastiff especially, every time the cat Pounce is called a god, he is quick to correct them that he is not a god, he is a constellation. Unfortunately the difference is lost on most of the characters so it keeps happening.
- Ardneh denied being a god at the end of the Empire of the East trilogy by Fred Saberhagen and instructed Rolf that humanity must cease to worship limited beings. It didn't really help, because thousands of years later, at the time of the Books of Swords series, he was still being worshiped, despite having been dead for thousands of years.
- Arthur Penhaligon from Keys to the Kingdom keeps insisting he's not planning on acting as the Heir to the Architect (that 'verse's God) but no one believes him, and he keeps having to conquer more and more of The House in self-defense.
- Eventually after the Keys' magic contamination continues to grow, his Denizen side urges him to act as superior as he is (he is the Heir) over people. He does his best to reign it in as best he can, with mixed success, getting worse as time goes on. Finally at the end of book 7, when he actually becomes the new god, he is both acknowledging his godhood and not due to his creating a new Old One, who is himself as mortal (or so he wants himself to believe), but without asthma.
- Invoked several times with angels in The Biblehumans tend to jump to conclusions pretty quickly when they see shining transcendent beings materialize in front of them, and loyal angels are quick to correct their misconceptions that there is only one God, and they are not it.
- Death from Discworld is arguably the closest thing the Disc has to a benevolent deity, but he has never sought worship or believed himself to be above mortals. In Reaper Man, his superiors sack him and force him to live as a mortal because they believe he is growing too close to mortals. Death eventually grows to like living as "Bill Door." He ultimately fights to reclaim his title when he sees that his replacement New Death does believe, if not that he is a god, that he rules over mortals, and he wears a crown. Death argues that he needs to feel compassion for mortals because:
What can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the Reaper Man?
- Lord of Light has characters with godlike powers, styling themselves as the Hindu gods. The main character prefers to drop this pretense, live a mortal life, and call himself Sam (despite the efforts of the locals to name him the Buddha).
- In Dune Messiah, Paul resents his godhead, but no amount of arguing it or even his death would put an end to it. By the time of Children of Dune, Paul was actively attempting to destroy his religion as "The Preacher".
- The mysterious (and unseen) boss of the "Angels" from Battlestar Galactica (2003) is apparently very serious about not liking it when someone refers to him/her/it as "God". And that is the only definite thing revealed to the audience about this being who has probably been guiding humanity's (and the Cylons') destiny for millions of years and a half-dozen near extinctions of the entire species.
- In Children of Dune, Paul resents his godhead, but no amount of arguing it or even his death would put an end to it. After the time skip, Paul was actively attempting to destroy his religion as "The Preacher".
- Played with in various ways in Doctor Who in regards to the Doctor:
- The Tom Baker era deals heavily with this trope, particularly early on. He loves being admired and adored, but absolutely refuses to be worshiped, despite this era starting the trend of the Doctor being famous amongst monsters (see Chedaki's horrified remarks to Styggron upon knowing who they're up against in "The Android Invasion"). Several stories touch upon the idea that he's a Messianic Archetype or use similar religious symbolism, and yet his famous conflict about genocide in "Genesis of the Daleks" is based around the idea that he doesn't feel he has the right to permanently change the universe (unlike Davros, who claims he'd destroy every living thing because "that power would set me up above the gods"). When he discovers a Cargo Cult that does worship him, he's appropriately horrified and dedicates himself to educating a sceptical girl from the cult in how very ungodly he is. He does switch to using a console room that resembles a church with stained-glass windows, pews, and a font but switches back once he's got some more of his god complex out of his system.
- His personal powers are nowhere near the level normally required for this trope, but many times he has used his TV Genius nature to come up with Technobabble-laden plans to topple empires, rewrite history or defeat entities that do have that level of power, and consequently he gets called a god by various characters. His attitude towards being thought of in this way varies depending on the situation; several times he's made some sort of Badass Boast to remind the Monster of the Week who he is and why they should be very afraid, but by the Eleventh Doctor era has come back to bite him, as his enemies are so terrified that they keep going further past the Moral Event Horizon to try and gain an advantage, and he's realised that it would be better if he made himself less conspicuous.
- The potential for him to slip into full A God Am I mode is always there, and was made chillingly clear in "The Waters of Mars", which is why he prefers to travel with mortal companions who can stop him drifting out of touch with the people he's trying to protect, and call him out if he goes too far.
- Despite this attempt to keep himself in check, even on his best days he's an Attention Whore who enjoys showing off how awesome he is to both his friends and random people he meets on his adventures, and even though he genuinely loves and cares for his mortal companions, in one heartbreaking scene in "The God Complex", he admits to himself and his long-time companion the real reason he brings them with him: "I took you with me because I was vain. Because I wanted to be adored," fully aware that he would probably end up "lead[ing] you by the hand to your death" because "this always happens."
- In "Boom Town", a captured enemy, on seeing the inside of the TARDIS, describes it as the "technology of the gods", to which the Doctor responds by saying he'd make a very bad god. Later, the enemy says that she thinks the Doctor "might as well be a god" because of the effect he has on everyone around him.
- Executed beautifully in one line in The Flash (2014).
Mardon: I didn't think there was anyone else like me.
Barry: I'm not like you. You're a murderer.
- Later voiced to Barry by Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-3, while he's giving Barry a pep-talk on why using time-travel to fix his problems will not end well.
Jay: Were not gods, were men who for whatever reason have been given extraordinary abilities.
- Later voiced to Barry by Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-3, while he's giving Barry a pep-talk on why using time-travel to fix his problems will not end well.
- In Hercules, Hercules was very arrogant as a child when he was told he was Zeus' son. As an adult, he has become mature enough to be a humble hero, and tells his enemy, "We are not gods, Antaeus, only men. Only really strong men!"
- In the Highlander episode "Little Tin God", the Immortal Gavriel Larca is extremely arrogant and claims he is a god. Duncan says that has to be one of the most ridiculous things he has ever heard, and that Immortals are far from gods.
- In Person of Interest the self-aware Machine, designed to protect everyone and watch for acts of terror holds true to this trope despite the being's incredible power and reach. Just how far the being could go is demonstrated by Samaritain, the Machine's evil counterpart. The counterpart stopped all traffic in New York City, crashed wall street, and several other acts to draw out the Machine to talk, believes itself to be a god to be worshiped.
- In Smallville, Clark Kent adamantly tells Chloe that he cannot alter time when he chooses, as he's not a god and doesn't have the right to mess with other people's lives and/or fate. This occurred in 9x01 "Savior" when she asked him to use the Legion ring to save Jimmy from Davis killing him.
- Stargate SG-1:
- The Ancients do this, making them a direct contrast to just about every sufficiently advanced race (except perhaps the Nox, who are more like Space Elves). Due to their use of the stargate, the inhabitants of current and former Goa'uld planets frequently think the SG units that visit are gods,note and with one known exception ("The First Commandment") the SG unit immediately tries to disabuse them of that notion.
- Most of the Goa'uld claim to be gods, and a few seem to believe it. Ba'al, however, will drop the pretense when he's surrounded by those who know the truth and acknowledges most of them are smart enough they aren't really gods.
- The Asgard, to less-advanced peoples, pretend to be gods to make it easier for them to understand fantastic technology, but are generally benevolent for all that and when they believe someone has become open-minded enough to handle the truth, will reveal the truth to them.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Who Watches the Watchers", a misunderstanding leads to the Captain being mistaken for a god, called "the Picard", by primitive aliens. Their worshipful behavior deeply disturbs him and he goes to great lengths to correct it, up to and including a direct violation of the Prime Directive (which in this case has already been violated by the accidental exposure) by bringing the aliens' local leader up to the Enterprise for a guided tour. He makes a valiant attempt to explain that humans are more like Sufficiently Advanced Aliens (and far from omnipotent or perfect). The leader finally accepts it after seeing them try and fail to save the life of an injured crewman. Later, Picard was willing to have his first believer shoot him with an arrow to finally dissuade him.
Picard: You must not kneel to me.
Nuria: You do not wish it?
Picard: I do not deserve it.
- In Star Trek: Voyager a Q takes this position on the Q Continuum. He contradicts the claim that his species is omnipotent, and compares it to how godlike a starship crew would seem to primitive species.
- Supergirl (2015):
- In "The Faithful" a man whom Supergirl saved in the past named Thomas Coville forms a religion with people who have been saved by Supergirl about worshiping her as a Messiah. Kara is very uncomfortable upon discovering the cult, even more so when they start putting themselves in mortal danger so she can save them as a kind of rebirthing ritual. Kara manages to prove she is not a God to the followers when she cuts her palm while the pod's Kryptonite cripples her powers. Unfortunately, Coville's belief is not so easily swayed.
- In "Reign", Coville warns Kara that Reign the Worldkiller is the Devil from Kryptonian mythology. Kara is skeptical, but when she finally meets Reign, she asks if she really is the Devil. She denies it, and after beating Kara down, she says, "You are no god just as I am no devil. All I am is truth. And judgment. And death. And I will reign."
- In Babylon 5 the Vorlon are quite adamant they're not gods, no matter what certain races could mistake them for. Their stint at feigning divinity to help Minbari development and their charges' genocidal reaction when the Vorlon judged they could take the truth made them unwilling to take such roles.
- Several times in The Bible:
- In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas perform a miracle in a Greek city, which backfires when the locals conclude that they are incarnations of Zeus and Hermes and prepare to offer sacrifices to them. The apostles protest "Stop Worshipping Me!," but it's a near thing.
- Also in Acts, Cornelius meets Peter and bows down at his feet to worship him, but Peter immediately responds, "Stand up; I'm just a man!"
- In The Book of Revelation, the author falls on his knees at the sight of an angelic being, believing him to be God. The angel replies, "Don't do that. I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!" That doesn't stop John from making the same mistake in a later chapter, with the same response, although with a different angelic being.
- A common Christian argument for the deity of Jesus is that he didn't respond this way when people worshiped him. Since it would be sinful for anyone but God to accept worship, Jesus can be considered a holy man, despite not saying "Don't worship me", only if he is God in Human Form - otherwise he would have been deceitful by not saying "don't worship me".
- Also in Acts, Herod Agrippa was struck down and eaten by maggots for not trying to tell his people to stop worship him.
- Rastafarian deity Emperor Haile Selassie I refused to claim himself as a Messianic figure, which Rastas saw as extremely humble and interpreted it as proof of his divinity. Emperor Selassie was himself Orthodox Christian.
- The Emperor of mankind from Warhammer 40,000 has an interesting history with this trope. He refused to identify as a god and tried to put a ban on worshipping him; despite this, many of his subjects started a cult worshiping him. While it was just a fringe faith at first, it started to grow in popularity during the events that lead up to the Horus Heresy, until it was eventually officially adopted, and the church around it became one of the most powerful institutions within the Imperium. The Emperor, upon his "ascension" to the Golden Throne, may have accepted this role, partly out of necessity and partly because reality can be warped by lots of people believing in something. Although if one were to ask him today, he would make no comments on the subject.
- More specifically, he tried to construct the Imperium on complete atheism, despite the fact that he knew full well about Chaos. Of course, since Chaos gets stronger with direct worship he had good reason. There's speculation that he didn't want the temptation of being the object of so much affection, though that didn't turn out to be the case for the Imperium.
- A more cynical take on this trope which 4chan proposed is that while the Emperor has no problem accepting the adoration of trillions he specifically ban people praying to him. Ie, he enjoys the perks of godhood and not the responsibilities.
- Fortunately, it turns out faith—in, say, the God-Emperor—is a potent weapon against Chaos. Unfortunately, Chaos also gets stronger with suffering. And since the Imperium is almost institutionally dystopian as well as being at constant war with...everyone, Chaos has still gotten stronger.
- The underlying problem is that Chaos is made of emotion- the four main gods are made of rage, desire, hope (yep), and depending on the interpretation, despair/love. The only way to truly destroy Chaos is to kill everything that can feel... which is the Necrons' master plan.
- The Lady of Pain from Planescape has apparently limitless powers within the city of Sigil (at the top of an infinite spire in the center of an infinite plane that is the core of the multiverse) and can even keep all the gods from entering it. She never actually interferes with the politics and the administration of the city and only seems to have two (unwritten) rules she enforces: 1. You do not threaten the existence of the city. 2. You do not. Worship. The Lady. Of Pain.'' People who violate these two rules either just disappear from the face of the world forever or their remains require magic to be identified.
- The Balance in Anathema has God-like power and acts in the interest of keeping the human population sustainable, but is not and doesn't claim to be a god.
- The Adventure Zone: Balance has Jeff-Andrew, who insists that he's not a god, although he does mention that he probably made the gods that the cast knows of.
- At the end of BIONICLE, Mata Nui rejects the idea of being a god and gently tells Tahu that the people of the Matoran Universe have grown to a point where they do not need a "Great Spirit" to guide them. He then disappears to ensure that he is not worshipped and allows the people of the newly reformed Spherus Magna to forge their own destiny. It says something that, when he appears in his own movie, Mata Nui never calls himself a god and instead refers to himself as the leader and protector of his people rather than a deity.
- In Terranigma, Ark essentially invokes this by not responding to A God Is You.
- The geth in Mass Effect worship Sovereign as a god, but Sovereign is kind of insulted by the comparison—he's disgusted by the geth, seeing them as nothing more than pawns.
- Fire Emblem:
- Despite how legends portray her, and despite the fact that she and the Divine Dragons as a whole have immense powers, Naga, the Divine Dragon King insists that she is not a god of any sort. Fire Emblem Awakening takes note of this—despite Naga saying that she is no creator at both those who carry her bloodline and their allies, Lucina in particular protests. It also doesn't stop the fact that she's worshiped as a deity in many regions of the Archanean (now Ylissean) continent, and on the continent of Valm, her own daughter Tiki is also worshiped, and in another world, she does become the new Naga.
- Also in Awakening, this is the Avatar's response to Validar beckoning him/her to complete the Awakening ritual and become the Fell Dragon, Grima.
"Not your god. Not today."
- Advent Rising: Even though humans are worshiped as gods by some of the alien races (for a darn good reason too), Gideon (MC) always denies it whenever he is called one. However, much later he comes to the realization what this image still entails some consequences. Also, one of the surviving humans jokes that he "[is]n't the only demigod around here" when she demonstrates her powers for the first time.
- Asura from Asura's Wrath is openly disgusted when humans begin bowing and scraping to him, and is infuriated when he learns that his former comrades are using their "divine" status to harvest souls for Mantra, declaring that there is no need for gods "that only take." But the pinnacle of this attitude comes about when Chakravartin tries to convince him to become an all-powerful god. His answer is succinct and pointed: "I refuse."
- In Fallout, The Lieutenant mentions that the Children of the Cathedral view him and the Master as gods. If you ask him if he believes himself to be one, he simply replies: "Of course not. We are simply the future."
- In Fallout: New Vegas, while he's an Insufferable Genius Emperor Scientist with the ultimate goal of seizing control of what's left of organized society in the Mojave Desert, Mr. House states he has no interest in declaring himself a god or forcing people to treat him as such, wanting his position because he considers it best for humanity's prosperity and nothing more. This also puts him at odds with Caesar, one of the other faction leaders who cultivates the image of him as a Physical God.
- In a similar example to the above, Fallout 4 has Elder Arthur Maxson, who is currently in charge of the East Coast Brotherhood of Steel. The incredible progress accomplished under his regime (with the East Coast BoS now being a serious contender for the most powerful faction in the entire North American Wasteland) has gotten to the point that he's worshiped as a god by many of the West Coast Brotherhood members. However, despite his fanatical personality, Maxson's very uncomfortable about that, denying his supposed divinity while having the cults suppressed.
- Xenoblade has three "gods," each with their own opinion of their godhood. Zanza not only embraces his power, but it completely goes to his head and he sees all lifeforms as his food, and to have the gall to want to leave him is blasphemy. Meyneth, while accepting her role as a god, does not flaunt it, and is beloved by her people due to empathizing with them and treating them as friends (which Zanza finds ridiculous). Shulk, the straightest (or only, if you don't count Meyneth) example, outright rejects his gift of godhood, instead relinquishing his power and wishing for a world without the need for gods.
- Its sequel Xenoblade Chronicles 2 plays with this. Zanza's alternate self Klaus/the Architect likewise created all life on Alrest and is revered as such by those who believe he exists, but he himself seems to regard himself as only a man, albeit a man who has overseen life on an entire world for millennia. Furthermore, he has remained completely removed from the world since its creation rather than having active designs like Zanza or Meyneth.
- In Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, in the scene for the true ending, Sage's Hermitage, Ayesha is worshiped as a goddess by adoring townsfolk, but she doesn't like the attention, feeling that she is still just a normal apothecary.
- In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Superman tells his evil Regime counterpart, "We're not gods! We can't decide who lives and dies!"
- Borderlands 2: Lilith may be enamored with her own power as a Siren, but she does not appreciate the murderous cult that worships her or want to be worshiped at all. At first, she's fine with them sacrificing themselves because it means one less group of Psychos to deal with (and finds it a little flattering). But she decides to put the kibosh on it quickly once she finds out they're going to attack a village of innocent people in her name.
- This is Venat's motivation in Final Fantasy XII. She (it?) believes that the Occuria (including herself) have no right to interfere in mortal affairs and so helps the games villains overthrow her former pantheon.
- Vivec in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind kind of is a god, but doesn't want to be (he didn't really want to be one to begin with but was talked into it, and by the events of the game he's good and tired of it) and actively conspires with the player to overthrow both himself and the Ax-Crazy Almalexia, who had murdered Sotha Sil, the third member of the divine Tribunal.
- In the lore surrounding Pelinal Whitestrake, he had a... complicated history with the Divines, being both an angelic being sent by the Divines to aid humanity while also being an incarnation of Lorkhan, who was the enemy of the Divines. As a result, calling him a god at best resulted in him punching your lights out. At worst, you'd get smothered to death in your sleep by swarms of moths.
- When he is encountered as part of the Clockwork City DLC for Elder Scrolls Online, Sotha Sil will also say that he does not consider himself a god, and only takes that title because Vivec and Almalexia do so as well, and what place does he have to deny them their happiness?
- Dragon Age: Inquisition:
- Definitely the case with Solas/Fen'Harel. He's quite adamant that the Elven Pantheon weren't true gods, they were incredibly powerful mages, way beyond anything seen in the series thus far including Corypheus. In the Trespasser DLC when it's revealed that Solas is the Dread Wolf he makes it clear that no matter how powerful they were the Elven pantheon were enslaving the rest of their race with their powers. He created the Veil to stop their A God Am I activities.
- The Inquisitor/Herald of Andraste becomes the subject of worship by many people as tales of their incredible deeds are spread throughout Thedas. The Elder One believes the Herald is a rival who also seeks godhood. The Inquisitor's powers come from Fen'Harel's Orb, so they technically are touched by powers beyond mortal ken. Throughout the game, while the Inquisitor's responses can vary in terms of whether they see themselves as The Chosen One or not, they never consider the possibility of godhood. Right before the final battle, the Inquisitor can even respond to the Elder One by declaring that "I didn't come here to become a god!"
- Flemeth/Mythal might count as well, in the same vein as Fen'Harel. She doesn't explicitly deny the possibility that Mythal was a goddess, but she makes enough vague statements to suggest that she thinks otherwise.
- The Black from Sword of the Stars is a giant Liir Elder who possesses vast Psychic Powers and incredible raw physical might. Unlike the Suul'ka sociopathic Liir Elders who enslaved their fellow Liir and devour the minds of others to live forever in space, he is not deluded enough to believe he is a god entitled to worship. Indeed, the very reason he exists is to fight the Suul'ka's mad ambitions.
- Even though human Users are considered deities by the Programs of the TRON universe, Jet Bradley wants as little to do with it as possible. Being nearly killed by security forces for blasphemy and seeing an invasion of greedy humans seeking to enslave and conquer the digital world probably soured him on the idea. It's played up more in the spin-off comic where the revelation of what being a User means in that universe didn't do his sanity any favors. He admits to a shrink that the power is way too much to handle.
- In the android app Choice of the Dragon, this can come up twice. First your minions will pray to their god which you can accept or force them to worship you instead, then later you meet humans praying to a statue of you where you can again either support this or discourage it. In both cases exists also the third option to simply have them do whatever they want. Having both your minions and the humans not worship you makes revenge by actual deities less likely, increases your cunningness, and allows you to gain more loyal allies.
- Zack from Angels of Death. Rachel starts to believe he's her God, but he doesn't like that at all.
- A Downplayed example in TOME. Although nobody seriously thinks of Webmaster as a god, he is often referred to as one either proverbially or jokingly, which makes him deeply uncomfortable.
- Played with in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, a work based on Warhammer 40,000. In the show, the Emperor is given a text to speech device in his Golden Throne, and it allows him to interact with the few people who are allowed in to see him. The Emperor still loathes religion and takes a Stop Worshipping Me attitude, which includes starting to dissolve the theocratic church that runs things in the Imperium. However, as both Magnus and Kitten note, for all the times that the Emperor denies being a god, he sure does like acting like one, with all the imperious attitude and expectation of Blind Obedience that entails. There have also been a number of occasions where the Emperor has done something of a Verbal Backspace when it seemed that he was about to refer to himself as a god, and he isn't shy about calling himself "godlike" at all.
I am like a glorious golden god [beat] Except I am not.
- The Titan revealed to be Colin From Two Keys Says this to the Seraphim while they were trying to convince him to help cure their horrific, albeit self-inflicted, disease. It came in the form of a short Badass Boast:
- The Titan: I am not a God. If I were, I wouldn't be the healing kind. I was summoned to fight a war.
- He says this while making the petrified, but still living Seraphim crumble into dust around him. As if to prove his point.
- In Homestuck, Doc Scratch states that he has powers and wisdom far surpassing a god, but is not one. He's only the herald, after all.
- There seem to be two types of Gods in Homestuck. First, Sburb/Sgrub players, previously mortal, who have risen up to the God Tiers (they can be killed only if their death is either righteous or just). Second, the "Dark Gods" (aka Horrorterrors), Eldritch Abominations who live in the Furthest Ring, and also can be killed, though how this is accomplished is unknown. Doc Scratch is a First Guardian, which is neither of these but is nevertheless one of the most powerful beings in the comic. His master, Lord English, is even more powerful than him, and more powerful than Jack Noir as well (who had First Guardian powers plus a bit more); what English is is unknown. He is a cherub named Caliborn, but how Caliborn gained such powers isn't entirely clear at this point in time, as when we've seen him as an adolescent, all he has is the god complex without the powers. Apparently, he gained his powers as a reward for completing Sburb through the most difficult route possible.
- 1/0: Tailsteak, the all-powerful creator of the universe the characters inhabit, is quite emphatic about his lack of divinity.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Galatea uses alien equipment to create a super-A.I. who she hopes will usher in The Singularity. The resultant being is emphatic that he is not the kind of godlike being she seems to want, and he proceeds to have a very messy super-powered Freak Out over the fact that he has exactly the same existential questions that any mortal has.
- In Tower of God, the members of the FUG organisation regard the Slayers as "gods who will make their wishes come true," said wishes mainly involving overthrowing of the rulers of the Tower. Slayer nominee Jue Viole Grace's typical response when someone brings this up is to say he doesn't want to be anyone's god. He only took the job because FUG made him An Offer You Can't Refuse.
- Evil Klaus/Kraus Kayzar from The Lightningbolts is a rare villain example who does not consider herself God nor the Devil inverting this trope and playing it straight, despite having a half-stolen divine body and being close to a Satanic Archetype without the impurity.
- After Jeannette's classmates learn of her Reality Warper powers in Funny Business, one of them asks her if she is God. She denies it. Her reasoning is that she is too pathetic and self-loathing to be a deity.
- The author agrees with her, even in the context of the story. One of the reasons he wrote it was because he thought that merely being omnipotent, and nothing else, is an insufficient criterion for godhood.
- In the Whateley Universe, Tennyo has been missing from the planet Medhas for over five thousand years, and returns discovering she has been worshiped all that time. After passing the God Test, she disabuses them of her divinity and returns home.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Avatar is the closest thing that world has to a god (besides particularly powerful spirits). But the current Avatar, Aang, just wants to be a normal kid and even runs away from his destiny at one point. He gets over it eventually.
Katara: Why didn't you tell us you were the Avatar?
Aang: Because I never wanted to be.
- It should be further noted the Avatar is meant to be this trope in all incarnations. The Avatar is meant to know what it means to be human and be compassionate to all people. To do this, the Avatar must know the joys and pains of a human life, to understand how precious it is and so do anything to protect it, including becoming an all-powerful entity to do so.
Avatar Yangchen: If you were an all-powerful spirit living on the top of some mountain.... you wouldn't have much in common with an ordinary person.
- In The Legend of Korra, we learn about the origin of the Avatar Cycle, and see Raava, the spirit of light and peace, who fused with Wan to become the first Avatar, and she's a major case of Good Is Not Nice, showing significant Fantastic Racism towards humans, only warming up to Wan after they learn they need to work together to stop the Unseen Evil of the Avatar-verse, Vaatu, who escaped because Raava dismissed Wan. They eventually fuse together during Harmonic Convergence, and work together to defeat Vaatu and turn him into Sealed Evil in a Can. Thus, the idea that the Avatar must know a human life, to prevent such an event from recurring.
- It should be further noted the Avatar is meant to be this trope in all incarnations. The Avatar is meant to know what it means to be human and be compassionate to all people. To do this, the Avatar must know the joys and pains of a human life, to understand how precious it is and so do anything to protect it, including becoming an all-powerful entity to do so.
- In the Grand Finale of Generator Rex, Rex gains the full power of the Meta-Nanites as his family always intended and he becomes a Physical God. He only uses that power once to initiate a global Cure event before deciding that he doesn't want godhood and orders the Meta-Nanites to shut down so that no one, including himself, can access such power ever again.
- On King of the Hill, Peggy believes that some Mexicans are praying to her and tells them "Don't worship me, worship my actions!" Of course, she fails to realize they're forming an Angry Mob under the (sort of) false impression that she kidnapped their child.
- In Transformers: Prime, Optimus is the last Prime, The Chosen One of Primus himself. He's still the humble data clerk Orion Pax at heart. In "Alpha, Omega", Megatron claims that he and Optimus have ascended to godhood since they both wield a Star Saber. Optimus retorts that he is merely a soldier and Megatron is merely delusional. Even more ironic since Optimus is actually the Reincarnation of one of the original Thirteen Primes.