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Above the Gods

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Thor, God of Thunder,note  meet YOUR gods.
"You may be a god, but I am a Titan!"
Kronika, Mortal Kombat 11
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While gods are usually the most powerful forces or entities in a given setting, this isn't always the case. Sometimes, there are beings out there that are so powerful, they are considered to be even greater than the gods. They may represent Big-G God or his greatest servants in comparison to a Fantasy Pantheon of little-g gods, be Anthropomorphic Personifications of eternal concepts, or even abstractions of forces far too powerful for mortals to wrap their heads around. In other cases, they're even Eldritch Abominations. These sorts of beings usually don't interact much with our level of reality, though there are exceptions. In fact, some sufficiently powerful mortals can fit this trope as well.

Compare and contrast The Old Gods, the forerunners to the gods, however they don't necessarily have to be stronger than the gods and can still be classified as gods. The "God of Gods" archetype of Top God might count assuming they aren't an official deity themselves. If the gods themselves aren’t considered cosmic entities, this figure probably still will be.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Kami is supposed to be god in the original Dragon Ball, King Kai is supposed to be Kami's god in Dragon Ball Z, and even he has his superiors... all of which are eventually overshadowed in power by Goku and the enemies he faces.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods introduces Beerus, God of Destruction, who is the strongest god of Universe 7. However, even he is still far weaker than his attendant and martial arts trainer Whis, who is eventually revealed to be an angel. The Tournament of Power arc from Dragon Ball Super reveals the existence of Jiren, a mortal whose claim to fame is that he's stronger than his god of destruction.
    • Goku himself temporarily achieves this state and surpasses even Jiren by achieving and completing the vaunted “Ultra Instinct” technique. Which grants him such power, that alongside his fighting instincts being honed to perfection, he can go toe to toe and eventually overwhelm even Jiren, the mortal beyond at least one God of Destruction. To further show the momentous nature of the occasion, the gods even stand up at attention when Goku achieves the completed form, and Beerus demonstrates a mixture of pride and jealousy at Goku doing what he cannot.
    • Eventually, in Super, we're introduced to Zeno, the literal King of Everything, and the most powerful being in the multiverse. He's so far above even the Gods of Destruction that he could casually eliminate entire universes if he wanted to.

    Audio Plays 
  • The audioplay Spock vs. Q: The Sequel has Spock and Q trading powers and personality traits. Q has no idea how this could happen without his knowledge, given that he's supposed to be omnipotent. Eventually it's revealed to be the work of "Petunia", who reveals some cosmic truth to Q. Spock is interested, but Q can only say that "P" comes before "Q". Beings more powerful than members of the Q Continuum aren't exactly common.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics is a Crossover Cosmology with gods from countless human and alien pantheons, with phenomenal cosmic power. However they are still lower in rank to the cosmic entities, who are the very forces of nature and cosmic powers that govern the universe. Yet even they answer to the Living Tribunal, the second-in-command to The One Above All itself.
  • New Gods: The titular New Gods are a race of deities, with Darkseid and Highfather being the Top God of Apokolips and New Genesis respectively. However they're still inferior in power and stature to the Source, a cosmic force which created the New Gods and the universe in the first place, which lies beyond the impassible Source Wall.
  • In The Sandman you're dealing with a Fantasy Kitchen Sink scenario, so there's gods to spare. None of them can stack up to The Endless within their given purview, however, and most of them step rather carefully around them. Most of this comes from the fact that the gods are not, in fact, immortal - they can be destroyed, by various means. The Endless, meanwhile, are... endless - even if killed, which can only happen with the cooperation of one of their numbers, they are simply reborn with a new body within the hour. Mind, the gods tend to have much broader powers than the highly-specialized Endless, so the respect often goes both ways. A few entities only match the Endless, and even then, there is plenty of variance there. The Kindly Ones are a very frightening trio who kill Dream himself, though only as part of an elaborate gambit he set up to be killed and reborn, since it's implied they wouldn't be able to kill him in his home turf. They're also pretty subdued when Death starts getting mad at them. Death herself, arguably the most powerful of the Endless, has a very few individuals (about two or three) outside of her jurisdiction, and that's the Presence and his two sons, one being none other than Lucifer Morningstar.
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    Literature 
  • The Arcia Chronicles have the Lightbringers, a group of seven deities who invaded Tarra over nine thousand years ago and killed off its Old Gods, placing them firmly among the divinity. That said, all seven serve an even more powerful entity known only as "the Light", which has called them back after seven millenia, leaving Tarra without any divine protection.
  • In Brandon Sanderson's multiverse, several works feature powerful physical beings worshipped as divine, but the Shards of Adonalsium are more powerful than any of them.
  • David Eddings really likes this one:
    • In The Belgariad, UL (father of the gods) and the two opposing Destinies (Sentient Cosmic Forces of Prophecy) are much more powerful than the gods (the Destinies are exactly equal in power; how they stack up to UL isn't elaborated on).
    • In The Elenium, Bhelliom (bound in the form of the local MacGuffin for most of the books) and its opposite number Klael create the worlds where gods and mortals exist. They have the power to kill gods and imbue mortals with power on a divine scale.
    • The Dreamers tetralogy has the original male and female creative powers embodied as the peasant couple Ara and Omago, who created the world and the lesser gods. In the climax, they effortlessly rewrite reality to negate the crisis the gods were fighting.
  • Played with in The Death Gate Cycle. The Sartan and Patryn races aren't technically gods, but consider themselves to be such- and get a nasty shock when they learn that there are things more powerful than them out there.
  • The Jenoine of Dragaera. The gods used to be mortal slaves to these Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, serving as both test subjects and unwilling lab assistants to the Jenoine's eternel For Science! quest. Then a freak accident (possibly engineered by the slaves) empowered the slaves into godhood. The new gods used the confusion of the accident to throw the Jenoine out of their plane of reality, and have done their utmost ever since to make sure the Jenoine stay out. As an example of the difference in their power, even after godhood was achieved: the world contains a type of Soul Eating blades known as Morganti weapons. Though gods are immune to the Soul Eating effects of "ordinary" Morganti weapons, being stabbed by a sufficiently powerful one would still deal a severe blow to a god, preventing him or her from manifesting anywhere for a long time. But to a Jenoine, being stabbed by the exact same weapon would only be an irritating distraction.
  • The Faerie Queens in The Dresden Files are as good as gods, but the Faerie Mothers (formally, the Queens Who Were) are an order of magnitude stronger, though they seem to be pretty restricted in how they can use their power, and don't do much during their first appearance other than offer some cryptic advice.
  • In Discworld, there are occasional references to entities known as "The Old High Ones". First mentioned in The Colour of Magic, they intervened in the first Mage War, forcing the Disc Gods to acknowledge an authority higher than themselves and rewriting the laws of magic so as to limit the power of human wizards and prevent them from destroying the Disc. The only Old High One ever named or given any characterisation is Azrael "the Death of Universes"; it is said that entire nebulae of galaxies are but a glint in Azrael's eyes, that all manifestations of Death are merely his reflections, and that he is the keeper of the Universal Clock, which is the logical opposite of a clock in that it tells Time what it is and not the other way around.
  • In H. P. Lovecraft's Dream Quest to Unknown Kadath the Outer Gods and their messenger Nyarlathotep are far more powerful than the gods of Dreamland (Nyarlathotep can instantly summon all the gods back to their proper place on mount Kadath with the snap of his fingers). The Outer Gods also appear in the Cthulhu Mythos and are also far more powerful than the Great Old Ones (the Old Ones aren't technically gods, but are worshipped as such by numerous cults). Cthulhu may be able to drive mankind to insanity and death when he wakes up, but the Outer Gods include beings that can create and unmake entire universes or exist in every point in space and time at once.
  • Everworld: Ka Anor is an alien god that can eat other gods, making him The Dreaded among the gods of Everworld.
  • N. K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy: The Primordial Chaos of the Maelstrom created the three Top Gods, who in turn created the universe and all the lesser godlings. Not even the Three can get close to the Maelstrom without being reabsorbed, so it's unknown whether it's even sentient. The godling Kahl attempts to evoke the Maelstrom in his bid to become a God.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: Elder Gods and Ascendants tremble before the Eleint, especially their mother, T'iam, whose can destroy a reality just by incarnating in it.
  • In the Mithgar books, the Fates are said to be above the gods, and the Great Creator is above them. Whether or not any of these exist as discreet entities or just abstractions is left ambiguous.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the gods are feared by mortals for their ability to vaporize them with so much as a finger snap. The gods fear their ancestors, the Protogenoi, the primordial entities that created the Earth and the rest of the universe. They're particularly on edge around Gaia, the embodiment of Earth itself, who has been plotting to overthrow them for millennia and are only spared by the fact that she's asleep and not at full power. The protagonists' job is to make sure she stays asleep, lest she begins The End of the World as We Know It.
  • In The Silmarillion, the Valar are a pantheon of immensely powerful entities that can be considered gods, but Eru Ilúvatar, Arda's true monotheistic deity (and it's heavily implied, the very same one that led the Hebrews out of Egypt in our world), is far more powerful than them (and created them in the first place). Melkor's inability to accept that causes him to become the Satanic Archetype of the story. Ungoliant might also be a manifestation of a higher dark power, or just a particularly unpleasant demon- Tolkien never really elaborated much on her origin.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: The Ancient Greeks believed that You Can't Fight Fate. This didn't just apply to mortals, but even the gods were subject to fate's will. Whenever a god attempts to Screw Destiny it'll only lead to it anyway, such as Titan Cronus devouring his children to avoid his own father's warning they'll overthrow him, only for it to lead them to do just that.
  • Norse Mythology: Similar to the Greek gods, the Norse gods are subject to the will of fate. Odin is concerned with defying fate to avoid Ragnarok, only for it to inevitably come despite his best efforts.
    • There are also a few mentions of the Ginnreginn (literally "Great Powers") in the Elder Edda, who may inhabit their own realm, and are implied to have created the very runes that Odin had to sacrifice himself to discover.
  • In Buddhism all gods of all other religions are considered to be Devas, finite beings that although very powerful and long lived are not omnipotent nor eternal. Above the Devas are the Buddhas, Boddhisatvas and Arhats who everyones can attain to be. Buddhas are fully awaken beings no longer in the material Universe, Boddhisatvas are enlighten beings willingly spending time in the Universe to help others attain Nirvana (for example the Dalai Lama) and Arhats are enlighten beings in pure meditation. A very similar view is held by Jainism but with Thirtankaras. Some branches of Taoism has also a similar view with Immortals filling the role of the Buddhas (whether this is original from Taoism or Buddhist influence is a matter of debate).
  • In Gnosticism the Demiurge created the material universe and the Archons who act like archangels/gods upon humanity, but the Demiurge himself is a lesser deity, the son of goddess Sophia who herself is one of the (normally) twelve divine forces created directly by the highest God of Light.
  • An "heretical" variant of Zoroastrianism thought that a god named Zurvan (time itself) was above both Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, the two opposite deities of Zoroastrianism.

    Radio 
  • Discussed in Old Harry's Game. God reveals in one episode that his real name is "Nigel", and he's rather embarrassed about this. At the end of the episode, the Professor speculates that if God didn't want to be named Nigel, then there must have been some other entity above God to give him the name.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Basic D&D Immortals rules. The Immortals are the BD&D equivalent of deities. The Old Ones are a group of extremely powerful beings who are to the Immortals as the Immortals are to mortals. If someone becomes an Immortal and reaches the highest level of Immortality twice, they can join the Old Ones.
  • The city of Sigil in Planescape still stands because the entity known as The Lady of Pain maintains the status quo. The city is barred to gods, and the last time the god Aoskar tried to usurp Sigil (which means he's at his most powerful, being the god of doors in a city of doors, and every citizen prayed his name as they are about to enter a portal), she annihilated Aoskar and his followers across the multiverse, in an instant, which is something that not even a god is capable of doing to mortals.

    Video Games 
  • Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star: Around 14,000 years ago (from modern Earth time), gods existed as physical beings that walked the Earth. Then an extraterrestrial being called "Sefar" came, killed many of those gods and caused major devastation before it's defeat. It results in the first decline of the "Age of Gods".
  • Mortal Kombat:
  • Touhou Project: While there are a few gods, messiahs and divine-descended people running around of immense power running around (belonging to Shinto, Buddhist, Taoist and even Greek pantheons), it's accepted that the Dragon who created Gensokyo (and has never been seen) outstrips them all by far.
  • BlazBlue this is what Terumi says about the True Azure. That it’s above absolutely everything, above Takamagahara and even above Amaterasu. Which is why almost everyone wants it. And because Terumi is a legit god Takehaya-Susano'o-no-Mikoto, he isn’t exaggerating.
  • While YHVH is the front-runner for the divine pantheon of the Shin Megami Tensei series and commonly seen as the top God, behind even Him there is the Great Will. It is a mysterious being or force that permeates the whole multiverse and is generally only described through second-hand information from several sources with various levels of bias. What is known however is that it is the source of everything, with YHVH being it's most prominent avatar.

    Visual Novels 
  • Shinza Bansho Series: While it is initially presented as the great Hegemonic Gods that the series focuses on as being at the top of the hierarchy, it is more and more made clear that there exists a being, or beings, above them referred to as Naraka. Just what Naraka is exactly is not well known with only the First Heaven really seeming to be informed on the matter, though she certainly seems to hold a grudge against it.

    Webcomics 
  • The Snarl, resident Eldritch Abomination from The Order of the Stick, is so much more powerful than the gods that it wiped out an entire pantheon in minutes. The remaining gods were able to beat it, but only because it's completely brainless in spite of its power. It's later explained exactly why it's so much more powerful: It was made by four pantheons at once, their combined essences (or colors) forming a much more powerful being than any single god or pantheon. Since there's only three pantheons left (the Snarl slaughtered the fourth pantheon upon its creation), nothing the gods can create is ever as solid and as "real" as the Snarl. The only hope to defeat the abomination permanently lies in the creation of a new "color" that isn't already part of the Snarl.
  • Tower of God has something like this, although it's a bit hard to define, since there isn't a single group of beings called the gods. Jahad is the God-Emperor, and certainly a Physical God, with the heads of the Ten Families not far behind him. The layer above them are the Administrators, the Powers That Be that each have complete control over a single (continent-sized) floor of the Tower; even Jahad only rules with their permission. Even above them are the most powerful Irregulars: Enryu, who's just so powerful he was able to demonstrate that the Adminstrators are not completely omnipotent, and Phantaminum, who Word of God states has Author Powers and is completely untouchable by anyone else within the story. Finally, people also make references to God, either one outside the Tower or the God that made the Tower (and the Tower itself may be a Genius Loci), but it's not clear this is anything but a vague religious sentiment. It's anyone's guess how the Tower or "God" would rank next to Phantaminum.note 

    In summary, if the rulers are called gods, as they sometimes are, then the Administrators are above them. If the Administrators are called gods, as they sometimes are, then above them are the most powerful Irregulars, especially Phantaminum, and possibly the Tower itself and God.

    Western Animation 
  • Prismo from Adventure Time is more or less some sort of god. He will fulfill exactly one wish for everyone who visits him, and that means any wish. Want to destroy all life in the universe, alter reality in drastic ways or have a sandwich? You name it! However, there are two moments in the series that allude to being who might be more powerful than him: When Magic Man wishes for his wife, who was taken by GOLB, to come back, the wish fails, with Prismo stating that this had never happened before. In a later episode, he asks Finn and Jake to help him clean up a mistake he made in an earlier episode, because otherwise "his boss" would hold him responsible. One wonders what kind of creature could be Prismo's boss...

 
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Dragon Ball Super Arc 4 Climax

After collecting the energy of all the mortals on the planet, Trunks defeats the genocidal god Zamasu.

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