There are many ways this could happen. For example:
- The character willingly abandons their previous life and physical form in order to ascend to a higher plane of existence.
- The character killed the previous incarnation of the abstract concept, so they must take its place as an Anthropomorphic Personification.
- The character obtains this in a metaphorical sense through purity of action. For example, a Big Bad is so evil and so spiteful that it becomes a being of pure hate.
Often overlaps with:
- Anthropomorphic Personification, if the character becomes an anthropomorphic personification of an abstract concept.
- Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, when the form the character takes on in the "higher plane" is an abstract concept in the mundane world.
- Deity of Human Origin, if the character becomes the deity of an abstract concept, or if in becoming an abstract concept, they gain powers equivalent to a Physical God.
This trope is different from God Job because the ascended character doesn't hold a cosmic office, but becomes a cosmic principle in itself. Sometimes this can mean that the character is no longer sentient by human standards.
This trope is as Old As Mythology itself. Every religion/myth gives some form to a radical concept that cannot be described in simple words. As an example, Satan is often considered the embodiment of hate, despair, etc., after he fell from the heavens. The hate itself transformed him from angel of good into a devil of pure evil.
Quite often invokes "I Am the Noun." Contrast Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, Omnicidal Maniac, and Straw Nihilist. Contrast or compare Pure Is Not Good and Made of Evil, the latter of which can overlap depending on the context.
Not to be confused with Anthropomorphic Personification. To be clear, an Anthropomorphic Personification is more often than not what results from this. This trope is when somebody becomes the concept, not the concept itself.
As this trope can and will involve scenes that happen after a Death trope, beware of spoilers.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the former Trope Namer and gave us the Alternative Title: Becoming Hope. Explanation is a spoiler for all the series: Madoka's wish turns her into a Goddess, and then a witch (a creature that radiates despair) - but she uses her immense power to destroy said witch and lives on as the abstract concept of hope, existing beyond time and space. Her influence allows all the magical girls who have ever existed to fight without despair and die without regret. (And the third movie reveals that the abstract can be made concrete again, if you have the proper trap. This happens twice.)
- Kyubey likewise confirms that Madoka has become an intangible concept.
- If Rebellion's events are any indication, Homura is on the fast track to becoming love. Her wholehearted devotion to Madoka, coupled with the karmic repercussions of turning back time so often (which heightens both girls' magical potential) enables her to survive the shattering of her Soul Gem. She becomes not a witch, or a magical girl, but something capable of rewriting the universe.
- Homura states (at least in the dub) that she's actually become the embodiment of evil.
- Baccano!: The Big Bad of 2002 sees Isaac and Miria as the embodiment of Hope, and therefore specifically excludes them from the hijackings he's planning.
- Princess Tutu: The eponymous Magical Girl is (presumably) a manifestation of the Prince's feeling of Hope, and Duck herself becomes, at the very least, a symbol of it by the end.
- The concept of La Persona Superiore a Dio (The Person Higher Than God) in A Certain Magical Index is temporarily achieved by Fiamma of the Right in Volume 22.
- Fullmetal Alchemist has people who Came Back Wrong from human transmutation as embodiments of the Seven Deadly Sins.
- That was the 2003 anime. In Brotherhood, those seven deadly sins were aspects cast off by the Big Bad in his attempt to become perfect. They were still good avatars of a given aspect, particularly Gluttony and Pride.
- Mushishi: Had the old man that became a mountain master after he ate the flesh of the old one, that took on the form of a boar.
- In The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos was defeated when he abandoned his body and became/replaced Eternity at the head of the Cosmic Beings... and failed to realize that the Gauntlet itself, which sustained his new existence, was still on his lifeless body's hand and within easy reach of vengeful relatives.
- In The Sandman, there is an... odd version of this trope. Morpheus challenges a demon to a duel, and the demon chooses the weapon/setting as "reality", meaning that each doesn't quite become the thing they describe, but it's close. One line:
Morpheus: I am hope.
- Morpheus is also the brother of Despair (who, according to Destiny, should encompass Hope).
- A more straightforward example occurs at the end of The Kindly Ones, when Morpheus dies and Daniel becomes the new Dream.
- It is mentioned that Despair was killed at some point a long time ago, and replaced by a new Despair, but there are no details whether or not the new one was a person who turned into Despair or something else completely.
- The series also contains a possible inversion. Destruction abandons his duties and everything carries on as normal. He suggests that the others could do so as well, the concepts don't need anthropomorphic personifications to keep existing.
- Wonder Woman became the goddess of truth for a while, but gave it up. She seems to be an avatar for it even in mortal form, however; for example, some stories says her Lasso of Truth simply channels her inborn powers, and her very presence makes it difficult for people to lie.
- In the backstory for the DC Universe's Emotional Spectrum, this is apparently the origin of the Lantern entities. The first creature to experience a given emotion (for example, a bug in fear of a predator, or an enraged bull) became a kind of Anthropomorphic Personification of that emotion.
- In chapter 78 of Child of the Storm, it is revealed that Lilly Potter merged with the Phoenix Force a.k.a. Destruction of the Endless, to become the White Phoenix of the Crown, Her dominant aspect.
- Additionally, in chapter 72, Luna Lovegood, having just died, becomes the new Delirium after the old one wandered off one day.
- An example (or six) is demonstrated in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction 'The Light Never Goes Out'. After a couple of decadesnote it becomes clear what bonding to concepts such as laughter, honesty, loyalty, generosity, kindness, and magic would actually do to mortal ponies. Now it is the bicentennial of Luna's return....
- Dragonball Z fanfiction Honor Trip does this to Goku, not surprisingly. He personifies hope & relinquishes his soul to Future Trunks.
- In the Pony POV Series, while the Major Arcana Alicorns (like Celestia and Luna) are born/created as Concepts, the Minor Arcana are all ponies who were born mortal, but eventually gained enough power and came to personify an idea so well that they ascended. The Magician Alicorn (Dark World Twilight) and the Draconequus of Cruelty (Dark World Fluttercruel) are also examples, with the former being the only Major Arcana born mortal, and the latter being the only known example of a mortal becoming a Draconequus.
- Thousand Shinji: At the climax of the story, the main characters became the New Chaos Gods. So that Shinji became the God of Deceit, Change and Hope; Asuka, Goddess of War, Wrath and Valour; Rei, Godess of Demise and Joy; and Misato, Goddess of Pleasure and Perfection.
- The Abstracts in Faith and Doubt and its sequel can be this. The Abstracts Honesty, Kindness and Doubt (later revealed to be Faith) were Earth Ponies who ascended during Discord's reign to become the very embodiments of their abstracts.
- The Oversaturated World has Sunset Shimmer becoming the human world's manifestation of Harmony.
- Death Is Forced To Take A Vacation: The Reapers are this for the Role of Death, former mortals who gave up their original selves to take up the position (though as aides to the Lady of Death and not as full Lords or Ladies of Death themselves).
- The same holds true in other universes in the same multiverse where this one is set, such as the Pieces-verse.
- Discworld, Thief of Time: Lobsang becomes the personification of Time, taking over from his mother.
- Near the end of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy Vin takes up the mantle of Preservation, a shard of Adonalsium (essentially, she becomes a God), and ends up locked in opposition to her much more experienced counterpart Ruin.
- Many of Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere works seem to incorporate this in some way, with the Shards of Adonalsium.
- Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality. Each of the first five books features a mortal who becomes an Anthropomorphic Personification (Death, Time, War, Fate and Nature).
- The titular character in Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy is called Lady Hope by the people of the Realms, as she represents the hope that magic of the Realms will be returned to them and shared.
- In the Brazilian book The Battle of the Apocalypse, God becomes the spark of free will and evolution within all human souls.
- The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel has Josh, who becomes a personification of death.
- Those That Wake inverts this. Man in Suit is hopelessness given form.
- In Kamen Rider Decade the movie All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker, it is hinted that at one point all Kamen Riders would become this kind of existence.
Garagaranda: Didn't you guys die?
Kamen Rider #1: As long as Riders are needed, we will never die.
Kamen Rider #2: And as long as Riders exist, we will never let Dai Shocker have their way!
- This is further explored in the Let's Go Kamen Riders anniversary movie.
Owner: Even if Rider history changes, it seemed the memories people have of Riders don't change. People's memories create time. In other word, as long as people's memory exist... Kamen Riders will endlessly revive.
- Cue all the Kamen Riders appearing to deliver a huge beatdown to the Shocker Alliance.
- This is further explored in the Let's Go Kamen Riders anniversary movie.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "Skin of Evil", after Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence, an alien race left behind Armus, a personification of the evil of their former existence.
- Star Trek: Voyager: The Thaw, a Monster Clown that is a personification of fear.
- In Egyptian Mythology, Imhotep, the very much historical scribe, architect, healer, sage, and chancellor in the court of the Third Dynasty pharaoh Djoser, was deified about two thousand years later (no earlier than the Third Intermediate Period) as a god of wisdom and medicine associated with Thoth.
- In the Kamigawa cycle in Magic: The Gathering, Michiko Konda fuses with her spirit world counterpart to become a living embodiment of the barrier between the mortal world and the spirit world, ending the spirit war in the process.
- From the same block, there are Ascendant characters who turn into Essence (enchantment) if certain condition is met, such as Homura, Human Ascendant.
- And in the end of The Secretist (the three part webnovel of the Return to Ravnica block), Jace Beleren is now the guildpact.
- Sometimes before that event, Jeska sacrificed her Planeswalker essence to mend the rift throughout the multiverse. As a side effect, her essence imposed a new cosmic rule to the way Planeswalker sparks work: there are now more of them, but they are very weak compared to the oldskool 'walkers. Curiously, she had to shatter the embodiment of her evil self to give her mercy to the world, much like the Madoka example above.
- In Planescape, the souls of the dead can be reborn as the Always Chaotic Evil Tanar'ri, the always lawful evil Baatezu, etc.
- Further, when such a being dies in its native plane, they merge with the plane itself. The Abyss is pure chaotic evil because it's forged from the countless evils of every soul that has ever gone there, while Mount Celestia is built, stone by stone, from the lawful goodness of every soul that ended up there, and so on.
- The most powerful of the gods in Scion are unique in their ability to assume "Purview Avatars", temporarily becoming intelligent manifestations of a certain aspect of reality with unlimited power. A god can literally turn into The Glory, The Abyss, or The Reaper.
- This is the whole point of Nobilis - one day, a being of cosmic power sticks Hope in your soul. What are you going to do about it?
- Exalted: this is the nature of Primordials - they're an embodiment of a concept, such as Hierarchy and the Rules (She Who Lives In Her Name) or Backstabbing Dickery (the Ebon Dragon). Which means that when an Infernal takes (Yozi) Cosmic Principle, this happens to him. (He can also create his own embodied concept, but he can't truly become it in the same way due to the Charms required to do so.)
- Ironically, it's by averting this trope that the Devil Tiger path allows the Infernals to become more than their predecessors. By remaining an embodiment of themselves, rather than a concept, they avoid the Primordial's Crippling Overspecialization.
- Unknown Armies This is the point of cosmic bumfight. You want to have a seat in the Invisible Clergy so you will be immortalized as a concept in the world that is to be reborn. And yes, you can do it Madoka-style.. You Did It.
- Mage: The Awakening subverts this trope. In Imperial Mysteries, it's explained that a Mage can go to the Supernal and merge with it, subsumed into one of the many Symbols that define the world. The challenge for a Mage seeking Imperium is going to the Supernal, gaining the ability to manipulate Symbols, all while still being herself. And the Exarchs did it before you.
- 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons lets the player do this through several Epic Destinies.
- Inverted in Warhammer 40,000: the Warp (formerly known as the Realm of Souls) is an alternate dimension that changes based on emotions felt by sentients. The four Chaos gods were formed from it, being the embodiments of despair and/or love (Nurgle, around the Black Deathnote ), rage (Khorne, around the Crusades), hope (Tzeentch, around the Renaissance) and desire (Slaanesh, sometime in the 30th millenium after centuries of Space Elf hedonism).
- Hazama in BlazBlue is really Terumi, the Big Bad of the series. Who died roughly 100 years before after failing to doublecross his "companions" and seems to have become a being of pure hate (and the poster child for As Long as There is Evil). He basically feeds on his own Kick the Dog moments.
- In God of War Ares wanted Kratos to become death itself by becoming the ultimate warrior. To accomplish this, Ares tried to remove his humanity by tricking Kratos into killing his family. Unfortunately for Ares, all this did was piss Kratos off.
- In 3 it's hinted that Athena has become something higher that a god, following the explanation of why the gods became evil between 1 and 2 it can be guessed that Athena has become Greed itself
- In Persona 3, the Main Character sacrifices his/her life to become the Great Seal, the final barrier between Nyx, Death itself, and Erebus, the Anthropomorphic Personification of humanity's self-destructive unconscious desires, thus becoming the ultimate representation of hope in the ''Persona'' universe, and visualized as a massive golden gate with the protagonist's soul keeping it closed. Ryoji is the literal embodiment of death, and serves as the game's final boss and the first person you meet in game.
- Persona 4 has a metaphorical example: Goddess Izanami wants to test mankind's potential, so she gives three people power and names them embodiments of a concept - Hope, Despair, and Emptiness - with the intention of acting based on which representative has the most success.
- Persona 5 has the heroes attempting to invoke the trope, by making their Phantom Thieves group a symbol of hope and encouragement for anyone trampled upon by societal corruption, rather than a couple of high school kids. In the Final Battle, the heroes transform this belief into a massive Guardian Entity, that in turn destroys the Lawful Evil Eldritch Abomination Big Bad attempting to "free" humanity of The Evils of Free Will.
- In Final Fantasy IV, Zeromus (the trope namer for As Long as There is Evil) ends up the living embodiment of hate, born from the sheer hate of the slain Zemus.
- In AdventureQuest, the player character literally becomes the avatar of Hope during the last chapter of the Devourer Saga.
- Live-A-Live has Odio's various incarnations, all embodiments of hatred.
- In Earthbound Beginnings, Giygas was originally an alien that was going to destroy the earth, but in the sequel, EarthBound, he becomes evil itself, as stated by Porky Minch.
- The Archangels of the Angiris Council in the Diablo game series represent and act as embodiments of Valor, Justice, Wisdom, Fate, and Hope. At the end of Diablo III', Tyrael, formerly the Archangel of Justice, takes on the mantle of Wisdom, as its previous holder, Malthael, is out wandering the void.
- The Great Evils also embody the concepts of Hatred, Terror, and Destruction while the Lesser Evils are Pain (physical), Anguish (emotional), Lies, and Sin. Three subordinate demons encountered during the game embody Gluttony, Lust, and Despair.
- In his own words, Javik in Mass Effect 3 is "Vengeance". Not in a metaphysical sense, but he completely identifies himself, and regards his entire existence, as the medium of revenge for the extinction of the Protheans by the Reapers. Nothing else in his life matters or will ever matter but wreaking that vengeance.
- According to him, this was common for Protheans; there were avatars of many concepts (the most prominent, of course, were the ones related to their 300-year-long war against the Reapers). During the assault on Earth, he identifies Shepard as the avatar of Victory.
- Averted if you convince him to put aside his Echo Shard. He looks forward to outliving his purpose and thinks about co-writing Liara's book.
- In the backstory of Fate/stay night the Avenger of the Third Grail War was originally a normal villager with no special powers until his village turned him into The Scapegoat for their own sins. As a result his soul came to represent the "wish" for there to exist a source for "All of the World's Evil". When his soul entered the Grail, that wish was granted, transforming the Grail's contents into an endless flood of curses and potentially transforming Avenger into a Physical God.
- In Fate EXTRA, the playable Archer is distinct from his counterpart in Fate/stay night in that he, instead of becoming a Counter Guardian upon death, became the avatar and shape representing the abstract concept of the "ally of justice". His abstract nature is evident in his true name - "No Name".
- From Undertale there's the Fallen Child a.k.a. Chara... Due to the Post Modern nature of the game, EXP and LV are actual in-universe recognized things, so when the Fallen Child at the end of the Genocide Route identifies themselves as that feeling you get when your stats increase, it becomes a very meta example since this both means that it's them, not the Player Character, that has been getting stronger throughout the game, and also that Chara is an aspect of video gamers themselves and possibly even the embodiment of all playable RPG characters ever.
- At the end of book six of Fans!, Lord Feral becomes the alphabet itself, succeeding the inventor of phonetic writing.
- Lord Kyran of EmergencyExit, also known as Lord Hate. The idea is never fully explained, but he seems to personify and subsist on the hate of all beings.
- From 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage, after being killed by Lich, descended into hell, took it over and became the embodiment of all mortal evils. Then his (former) demonic minions resurrected him so they could kick him out of hell.
- Such an avatar of evil was Black Mage, that when he was faced with a representation of his greatest sins, all the universe could think to come up with to adequately represent BM's evil was a copy of Black Mage. He then absorbed that as well, and became double pure evil.
- In Questionable Content, Pintsize the robot hoards porn in hopes that when The Singularity hits, he will BECOME PORN.
- In Sailor Moon Cosmos Arc this is what Sailor Cosmos ultimately is: the embodiment of hope. Likewise, Chaos is the embodiment of despair.
- At the end of To Boldly Flee, The Nostalgia Critic merges with the Plot Hole and essentially becomes one with all of the many inconsistencies in the Awesomeverse.
- In the The Adventure Zone: Balance the ultimate antagonist of the series, The Hunger is revealed to be a extremely twisted vertion of this trope, as it is the result of an entire multiverse, down to its inanimate parts and objects revolting against the concept of existing out of sheer, enraged, nihilism at the futility of existence and endlessness of time, proceeding to devour other multiverses in an attempt to out-size the concept of space and demand whatever or whoever its out there for an explanation and to force it to change. Case in point, the core and creator of The Hunger, John, explains that a more proper name for it would be The Dissatisfaction