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Abstract Apotheosis

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"You see, hidden within the unconscious is an insatiable desire for conflict. So you're not fighting me, so much as you are the human condition."
Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

A character becomes an abstract concept like hope or love, whether literally or in a metaphorical sense.

There are many ways this could happen. For example:

Often overlaps with:

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 an 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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Super has a surprise example in Zamasu, after his defeat tries to take a page from Giygas book and Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence as "Justice and Order" itself, becoming an Eldritch Abomination that corrupts Trunks's timeline. Doubles as Sudden Downer Ending.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • The original manga and its anime adaptation have the Homunculi, who each embody and are named after the Seven Deadly Sins. It's eventually revealed that they were aspects of the Big Bad Father's personality, which he cast off in his attempt to become perfect.
    • The 2003 anime's version of the Homunculi are still related to the Seven Deadly Sins, but instead they were dead people who Came Back Wrong from human transmutation as embodiments of those sins.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Madoka 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 a demon capable of rewriting the universe, as opposed to Madoka's Goddess.
      • Homura states (at least in the dub) that she's actually become the embodiment of evil.


    Comic Books 
  • After the New 52, the Lords of Order from the Doctor Fate series have been retconned. Prior to this, the Lords of Order and Chaos were primordial beings of the universe that represented Order and Chaos in the cosmos. Now the "Lords of Order" is a title for the earliest humans who were scholars who became the first wizards and sought to impose order on a chaotic universe through their new-found magic. Their obsession with order would lead them to achieve a lesser form of apotheosis, making them generally less powerful than the Olympian gods and whatnot. There doesn't appear to be a corresponding "Lords of Chaos" so far.
  • In the backstory for Green Lantern'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 The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos is defeated when he abandons his body and becomes/replaces Eternity at the head of the cosmic beings... and fails to realize that the Gauntlet itself, which sustains his new existence, is still on his lifeless body's hand and within easy reach of vengeful relatives.
  • In The Sandman (1989), 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, a human, 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 becomes the goddess of truth for a while in Wonder Woman (1987), but gives it up. She seems to be an avatar for it even in mortal form, however; for example, some stories say her Lasso of Truth simply channels her inborn powers, and her very presence makes it difficult for people to lie.

    Fan Works 
  • In chapter 78 of Child of the Storm, it is revealed that Lily 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.
  • 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.
  • Fate of the Clans: An Origin is a concept that slipped from the Root along with souls. As such, anything with a soul also has one of these concepts.
  • 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.
  • Dragon Ball Z fanfiction Honor Trip does this to Goku, not surprisingly. He personifies hope and relinquishes his soul to Future!Trunks.
  • 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....
  • The Oversaturated World has Sunset Shimmer becoming the human world's manifestation of Harmony.
  • 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, Goddess of Demise and Joy; and Misato, Goddess of Pleasure and Perfection.
  • We're a Miracle: Spiritual beings are sentient constructs that represent universal concepts. While some of them, like Father Time, have always existed, others are mortals chosen by the universe to represent concepts after their deaths. This includes Star and Marco, who eventually become the spirits of magic.


    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 words, 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.
  • 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.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "The Thaw" features a Monster Clown who is a personification of fear.

  • At the end of "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Warren Zevon, the now-undead Roland appears to embody war itself, showing up in various conflict zones around the world.


    Tabletop Games 
  • 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 a 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 a 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.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: During Downfall, the Queen of Storms transcended even the quasi-mortal state of the other Queens to become her Invocation, a living storm of lightning and righteous hatred that eternally ravages the heart of the Darkness.
  • 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 general emotions and concepts related to them - despair for Nurgle, passion for Slaanesh, rage for Khorne, and hope for Tzeentch.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • God of War:
    • 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 God of War III it's hinted that Athena has become something higher than 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
  • Persona
    • 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 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.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Hope. His entire Character Development is about him growing to live up to his name. This is commented on frequently over the course of the plot. In the second and third games it's taken even further as Hope has become the embodiment of the virtue itself and the world becomes hopeless (both figuratively and literally) when he disappears.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the Meteia become the physical embodiment of despair after their Hive Mind was forced to internalize the despair and anguish of countless worlds on their mission to try and find the meaning of life. Unable to withstand such emotions, they come to the conclusion that life is not worth living and attempt to Mercy Kill the entire universe.
  • 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 (1994), 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 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... Owing 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 they are an aspect of video gamers themselves.
  • Destiny: One of the schemes of Savath√Ľn, the Witch-Queen, Hive god of cunning and subject of much Wild Mass Guessing, was to transform herself into the very concept of 'Wild Mass Guessing about Savath√Ľn' so that she will exist anywhere "every false prediction, misguided theory, fearful rumor, and ominous supposition" suggests she exists, and live for as long as people continue to make them. Or so she claims. Her brother Oryx had the less convoluted goal of becoming "synonymous with death", but he got killed before that could happen. Their sister Xivu Arath, conversely, already considers herself the Anthropomorphic Personification of war.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.
  • Lord Barok van Zieks in The Great Ace Attorney is seen by the public as the divine avatar of the "Reaper of the Bailey" who delivers karmic deaths to all those he prosecutes against. It's later revealed that Mael Stronghart orchestrated the Reaper murders to specifically achieve this, something that Lord van Zieks was not happy about once the truth was discovered.
    Stronghart: Your role wasn't that of some embodiment of death. No, you were London's guardian angel.
    Lord van Zieks: An angel with bloody hands? I think not.
  • In the Shinza Bansho Series, there exists the concept of a character creating their own law that will alter the very nature of reality according to their desires. However, as they get closer and closer to making it a true law, they also start to embody it more and more. Should someone Emanate then they will ascend to unprecedented levels and instead of creating their own law, they will become it, effectively becoming a God in the processes as they rewrite all of existence. At the end of the novel's final route, Ren Fujii, Reinhard Heydrich, and Marie becomes the very concepts of frozen time, war and omnibenevolence respectively as they take on the current God, Mercurius, who is the concept of the Eternal Recurrence in a massive free-for-all.

  • At the end of book six of Fans!, Lord Feral becomes the alphabet itself, succeeding the inventor of phonetic writing.
  • Lord Kyran of Emergency Exit, 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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 an extremely twisted version 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 is 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