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Bolt of Divine Retribution

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Priest of Offler: Offler is a vengeful god!
High Priest of Blind Io: Trigger happy is what he is.

Annoying the Lord of the cosmos with such things as common blasphemy, refusing to go along with Because Destiny Says So, and refusing to believe in him despite all evidence to the contrary tends to invoke his wrath. The most common form of aforementioned wrath? A lightning bolt to the face.

Said lightning tends to come out of nowhere (even indoors) and sends the very clear message that the big guy upstairs is not to be trifled with. If God Is Evil, this could happen to anyone For the Evulz. If God Is Good, then only the wicked will live in fear of it.

Occurs in both Classical Mythology and The Bible, making this Older Than Feudalism.

In Tabletop Games, this may be used as a more localized form of Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, designed to let the Game Master strike down the annoying Munchkin ruining the game without too much collateral damage.


In a commonly seen sub-trope, a character will swear that if they're lying, may God strike them down. God, of course, immediately obliges. Closely related to Heaven Above, since if the sky is divine, then lightning from it will be considered godly too. Compare Holy Hand Grenade and Death from Above. Not to be confused with Dramatic Thunder. Unrelated to Personal Raincloud, though that often involves bespoke lightning bolts as well. A possible final result of God Is Displeased.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Excel Saga, as cruel children pelt a Puchuu to death with rocks.
  • Subverted in Higurashi: When They Cry, as God fails to hit Takano. Turned around in the final arc, when Takano gets her chance to kill a god, and also misses.
  • One Piece have two examples
    • The first one is Eneru, who thanks to his electric powers, mind reading ability and god complex, kills anybody who goes against him with a lightning bolt.
    • And the other example is early on the series when Luffy is saved from a public execution when his executioner gets struck by lightning. Following that, attempts to light his ship on fire are foiled by rain and a strong tailwind allows Luffy and his crew to get away, prompting local marines to question if some divine force wanted to make sure Luffy survives. It's implied that a man later revealed to be Luffy's father caused the bizarre storm.
    • Big Mom, one of the Four Emperors of pirates, has Zeus, a living storm cloud created from her Soul-Soul Fruit powers, who can bring down lightning whenever he or Big Mom wants. During the escape from Totland, Zeus ages so many of Nami's "Whether Eggs" that he becomes huge, and Name brings down a massive pillar of lightning down on Big Mom!
  • In Wild Wind, in exchange for God not killing the manbeasts, Olgrius gets hit by divine lightning, physically scarring him (and his descendents) for life.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, attempting to use a counterfeit Egyptian God Card results in the real god striking whoever did it with lightning. This also happened to Joey for attempting to save Odion who got struck.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Team Ragnarok's Dragan plays a card called Polar God King Thor, which is basically the card incarnation of the Norse god himself. Whenever Thor is destroyed by the opponent, he revives himself and gives a couple of bolts to his enemy which not only inflict damage to their life points, but also inflicts real damage. Jack got hit by this twice.
  • In The Circumstances Leading to Waltraute's Marriage, Waltraute often zaps people who piss her off. It's Played for Laughs.
  • In Highlander: The Search for Vengeance, Colin MacLeod gets struck by lightning when he picks up a sword on Holy Ground.
  • In Naruto Sasuke tries to avenge his clan by killing Itachi this way. Bonus points for the beast the thunder represents. It doesn't work but Itachi admitted that if he hadn't had Susanoo, he'd have died.
  • In the Alicization arc of Sword Art Online, Kirito cites this trope when he confronts Alice about the supposed righteousness of the Axiom Church and its high cleric Administrator.
    Kirito: Who gets to decide whether Administrator or whoever dictates the laws is in the right or not? The gods? Then why don't they strike me down right here and now with some kind of divine bolt?

  • In The Apotheosis of Washington, Freedom's Eagle shows the tyrants whose side Heaven is on by shooting lightning from his arrows straight at 'em.

    Card Games 
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG has Divine Wrath.
  • Magic: The Gathering features divine smiting on a number of cards, like Divine Retribution and of course the (in)famous Wrath of God. Special mention to Keranos, God of Storms - who will frequently hurl Lightning Bolts at people, making him one of the few cards to be able to call down multiple bolts of divine retribution.

  • Johnny Hart's B.C. often features these, accompanied by the word "ZOT".
  • Asterix
    • Cacofonix from occasionally has his musical performances interrupted by divine lightning, if one of the villagers (especially Fulliautomatix) isn't faster.
    • Played with at the end of Asterix and the Soothsayer, when fraudulent soothsayer Prolix swears never to tell another fortune again. Cue him fleeing as a thunderstorm breaks out, with requisite lightning.
  • Subverted in Garfield. He does the lying variant, but as soon as he says "may lightning strike", he notices storm clouds rumbling overhead. He quickly changes the end of his sentence to "...the dog next door". Cue the sound effect of an off-panel "Kerpow!" followed by a "Yip!"
  • Calvin laments the absence of this trope in "Real Life":
    It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning.
  • In FoxTrot, Jason once sculpted a nativity scene out of snow where his "savior of Christmas" in the crib isn't the baby Jesus, but a baby credit card instead. As he's showing it to Peter, he looks up in time to see lightning clouds suddenly forming out of nowhere.
  • Inverted with Atrocitus, the head Red Lantern. Even the Spectre, God's current hand of vengeance, can't do anything to him because his mission is considered a holy one by the Almighty. And this happens after Atrocitus melts a busload of convicts with his red plasma weapon. Yeah.
  • In Vampirella, Huitzilopochtli's are technically concentrated sunlight but otherwise fit the trope.
  • In Vampire Tales #10 Morbius meets a woman who cares for him and tries to instill him with faith. After she is killed and Morbius has slaughtered those responsible in revenge, he yells that the only faith he'll believe in is that which strikes him dead where he stands. A bolt of lightning strikes at his feet, exploding the body of one of the woman's killers.
  • In A Prehistory of the Far Side, Gary Larson mentioned this while talking about including God in his comics. One comic in particular, captioned, "God as a kid tries to make a chicken in his room." featured an Ash Faced kid post chemistry-set explosion surrounded by tons of feathers.
    "I was mostly worried about the last cartoon shown here. Not because of readers, who for the most part found it to be a light and silly drawing, but because I started to feel like I was bucking for a lightning bolt to come out of the sky and turn me into something like the kid here."

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live Action 
  • Lampshaded by Rincewind to Twoflower in the live-action adaptation of the first two books of the Discworld series with a simile that goes as follows: "If complete and utter chaos was lighting, then being tied to you is like being on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armor and shouting 'All gods are idiots!'"
  • In Caddyshack, Bishop Pickering is winning a Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game during a heavy rainstorm, at one point declaring, "The Good Lord would never disrupt the best game of my life." When he misses his final putt on the 18th hole, he shakes his fist at the sky yelling, "Oh, rat farts!" Cue lightning bolt.
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life:
    General (Graham Chapman): Well, of course, warfare isn't all fun. Right — stop that! It's all very well to laugh at the military, but when one considers the meaning of life, it is a struggle between alternative viewpoints of life itself. And without the ability to defend one's own viewpoint against other perhaps more aggressive ideologies, then reasonableness and moderation could, quite simply, disappear! That is why we'll always need an army, and may God strike me down were it to be otherwise.
    (a lightning bolt destroys the general; cut to outside, where the Hand of God rises into the clouds; a sergeant major stands before his troops)
  • The film version of The Bad Seed. Apparently, it was thrown in at the last second because The Bad Guy Wins was in violation of The Hays Code.
  • In the 2010 Clash of the Titans, King Acrisius tosses his wife and Perseus into the sea. He decides this would be a great time to tell Zeus (Perseus's real father) to suck it. Zeus does not hesitate to respond.
  • In Rat Race, when a mechanic threatens two contestants in a race out of money for car repair. One of the contestants calls him out on how un-Christian it is, to which he laughs and calls out to God to give him a sign of his displeasure. Seconds later, a rocket shoots past (ironically manned by two other contestants), creating a sonic boom that collapses the mechanic's garage.
  • In The Terror, when the protagonist forces the witch to enter the hallowed ground (the graveyard), she is struck by lightning.
  • Purgatory: The townsfolk of Refuge are pacifistic. When the sheriff can't keep people from throwing knives at the church door in any other way, he just stands in front of it. The bandit cocking his arm back to throw is suddenly struck by lightning and killed, and a storm starts. The bandits don't take the hint, but insist on playing with the Villain Ball.
  • This happens in the direct-to-DVD kid flick EZ Money when a man in a phone booth talking on a phone states "May God strike me down if I'm not at work." He gets his wish.
  • Dracula is defeated in Scars of Dracula when one lightning bolt from the thunderstorm surrounding his castle strikes the metal rod in his hands, setting him on fire and careening down to ground.
  • In the Pakistani film International Guerillas, the Big Bad is international crime lord...Salman Rushdie. Yes, that Salman Rushdie. (The film came out about the time of The Satanic Verses controversy.) But that's not even the most memorable thing about the film, as in the end, Rushdie gets his comeuppance (in a scene that must be seen to be believed) by being lasered to death by giant flying Qur'ans.
  • Downplayed to Thunderclap of Divine Warning in Don Camillo: The titular priest regularly speaks with Jesus and does what he can to make life miserable for the communist mayor of the Italian village under their responsibility. When Don Camillo takes it a bit too far and is told to knock it off, his response is cut short by a thundercrack in the distance on a beautiful day.
  • The vengeful spirit of a very jealous woman in the Filipino horror film Patayin Mo Sa Sindak Si Barbara is dealt with this way when God decided she had sinned enough already and struck two separate lightning bolts at her grave and at the mirror Barbara was using for a forced suicide. The spirit is damned to hell, as a result.
  • Done in Thor: Ragnarok, where Thor hits Hela with "the biggest lighting bolt in the history of lightning" after Hela mistakenly assumes she has defeated him and gloatingly asks him what he was the god of again.

  • A man is playing golf with a priest. He misses a shot and starts swearing, only to be reprimanded by the priest. He apologizes, but swears again at the next mistake. The priest tells him off again, but at the third mistake and blasphemy, thunderclouds form above, and a lightning bolt strikes down... the priest. Then a voice comes from the heavens, saying "Oh for My sake! Missed!"

  • Bridge to Terabithia: Because of fears about unnecessary implications, what happens to Leslie is changed in the movie.
  • Damned: Archer's death, combined with Redemption in the Rain.
  • Parodied occasionally in the Discworld series. As one book puts it, a man who goes around the disc arguing that gods don't exist tends to be found later as a pair of still-smoking shoes next to a sign reading "YES WE DO."
    • A notable example is when Dorfl (a ceramic golem) declares his atheism; he notes afterward that a bolt of lighting isn't much of a logical argument. He is probably the safest atheist on the Disc, by virtue of being immune to lightning bolts.
    • Averted in Small Gods with Sergeant Simony, however. Simony comes face-to-face with the god Om, speaks to him, and still refuses to accept that he is real. Om leaves him alone, remarking that "Gods didn't mind atheists, if they were deep, hot, fiery atheists like Simony, who spend their whole life not believing, spend their whole life hating gods for not existing. That sort of atheism was a rock. It was nearly belief." (At the time, he lost most of his power anyway, and the most he can do is a pathetic little spark).
      • "Charcoal" Abraxes, in the same book, is the other sort of atheist, the kind that says it's not worth worrying about gods at all. His nickname suggests how the gods feel about that.
      • The book contains the quote, "...gods like to see an atheist around. Gives them something to aim at."
      • When the Tyrant says trouble started after the Omnian missionary pushed over the statue of Tuvelpit, the Ephebian god of Wine, Vorbis asks mockingly if he was then struck by lightning. The Tyrant says no, he was struck by an amphora of wine, because Tuvelpit was in the crowd and threw it.
    • In one description of the Disc, it mentions that it's the kind of world where gods go around breaking atheists' windows.
    • In the page quote, it's probably worth noting that Offler responded to this accusation by trying to hit the speaker with a lightning bolt. Fortunately it bent at right angles a few feet above his head and hit the floor instead. Being high priest of Io, chief of the gods has perks.
    • In The Last Continent, when the God of Evolution is getting "testy", small lightning bolts start arcing near the wizards, while the god apologises for this autonomous reflex he has very little control over.
    The Dean: "Perhaps you could seek treatment for premature incineration?"
    Ridcully: "DEAN!"
  • Midway through the Mage Winds trilogy of Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series, the protagonists learn that the theocracy of Karse, which has been an enemy of Valdemar for hundreds of years, has very abruptly cleaned up its act and sued for alliance. This occurs entirely thanks to their god, Vkandis the Unsubtle, finally getting fed up with his priesthood's corrupt and demon-summoning ways and deciding to answer the invocation at the country's annual high holy ceremony by immolating a good bit of the highest orders of his priesthood - and that just for starters.
  • In the romance novel Fallen Angel by Katherine Kingsley, the villain has a habit of saying "May God strike me down if I'm lying," whenever someone accuses him of cheating at poker or what have you. He, of course, usually is lying, but nothing happens - until the end of the book, when he's stolen a magic wishing coin from the angel/ghost hero (long story), is promising not to hurt the heroine, and makes his customary pledge. God immediately obliges, killing him instantly.
  • Rakurai is this for most people in Safehold, slaying the Shan-Wei's colony of Alexandria and threatening anybody who'd experiment with forbidden tech with continent-destroying bolt of archangelic retribution. Those who know what Safehold really is (fake church, lost colony in space) know also that Rakurai is a fine Kill Sat.
  • Jane Eyre, at a crucial point in Mr. Rochester's marriage proposal.
  • One of the powers that Nicolae Carpathia in Left Behind gains after being indwelt by Satan himself is the ability to call down lightning to render his enemies to ash.
  • In book 10 of Warrior Cats, this conveniently happens to Mudclaw, a minor villain.
    • StarClan may or may not have been behind that one, as they have a strict rule of non-interference in the physical plane. It was, in any case, an extremely convenient lightning strike for the Clans: not only was Mudclaw killed, but the lightning felled a tree which created a very handy bridge to a nearby island.
  • In Imajica, this trope backfires. On GOD. He becomes aware of some other deities in nearby parallel universes and, being a villain in this book, tries to destroy these rivals with a god-killing-caliber version of this trope. As He isn't omniscient about things in other universes, He doesn't know that the chain of universes loops around back to its starting point; the other deities dodge the Bolt, it loops around back to God's heaven, and kills Him.
  • In Paradise Lost, Satan refers to God as "the Thunderer" for good reason. When the fallen angels tried to imitate God's power with cannons, the Son knocked them out of Heaven with a glance reminiscent of ten thousand thunderbolts.
  • Early in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Sun Jian gets hold of the imperial seal. He uses a more poetic version of the lying line ("If I have the seal and am concealing it from you, may my life be short and my death violent"). Guess what happens to him.
  • Though it qualifies as "wizardly" rather than "divine" retribution, the short story "Same-Day Delivery" by Desmond Warzel contains two mentions of the "blue bolts from the heavens" from first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons referenced under Tabletop Games below. According to the author, this is a deliberate Shout-Out.
  • In Sharon Shinn's Samaria series, failure to perform the Gloria will cause the mountain to be burned with lightning. Raphael does not believe, and forces them not to. Whereupon...
  • The Lighting Thief revolves around a quest to recover Zeus's stolen "Master Bolt," that he uses to generate his divine retribution.
  • The Accidental Time Machine: "Jesus" uses these via Kill Sat.
  • Christian apologist Wendy Alec, in her Chronicles of Brothers series, has Lucifer repeatedly talking up a good fight against God and his estranged brothers in Heaven, challenging Him to do His worst and take his best shot — only to find God and his brother Christos are only too ready to oblige. Every time. As the series is closely based on the Bible and Christian tradition, of course Lucifer is doomed to be the Curb Stomp recipient for all eternity... This makes Satan look like nothing more than a vainglorious Warner Brothers cartoon character tempting Fate.
  • Referenced in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when Injun Joe lies about the murder he committed, and Tom and Huck, who know the truth, are shocked that one of these doesn't immediately take him out. Elsewhere in the novel, Tom suffers angst when he thinks a passing thunderstorm was specifically rigged up by God to punish him for not participating in St. Peterburg's recent religious revival.
  • The short story Answer by Frederic Brown features this as its (second) Wham Line.
  • Literature/Ivanhoe has a variant where Ivanhoe and Sir Brian De Bois Gilbert (both Catholic, Ivanhoe more so. Brian ignores his vows) are supposed to joust to determine if the falsely accused Rebbecca (Jewish) is nor is not a witch. The audience gets their answer when Brian dies of a heart attack about when he steps into the arena, proving Rebecca's innocence and allowing her to go free.
  • In the Chaos Gods series, Maggie badmouths the Fallen Gods while in the Fallen Lands and gets struck by a bolt of lightning. She immediately protests that the Fallen Gods shouldn't be allowed to strike her with lightning because she's a Blessed of the Sister Gods, only to get struck by lightning again in response.

    Live Action TV 
  • Little House on the Prairie: In the climatic scene of Season 4's "Whisper Country," what Mrs. Peal was hoping to summon when – having been exposed as illiterate – she holds her Bible up to the tip of her reach, hoping to summon lightning to strike Mary down. It doesn't work.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • In "Who Mourns for Adonais?", Apollo uses this a few times. Since there were no Red Shirts around, he decided to pick on Scotty for wearing red.
    • Vaal also likes to throw lightning bolts around in the episode "The Apple." A Red Shirt is incinerated by one bolt, while Spock gets second-degree burns from another strike.
  • On The Drew Carey Show, Lewis thinks he had been touched by God to become a prophet. Then, after he gives a lot of sanctimonious pronouncements, he gets hit by lightning. Repeatedly hit, each time offering an ever more feeble excuse for the most recent lightning strike. He just kept tempting fate until the third or fourth one, finally being helped inside by his friends, scorched and exclaiming:
    Lewis: Hide me, hide me! God is pissed!
  • On the Stargate SG-1 episode "Demons", the Canon incapacitated SG-1 with a piece of Applied Phlebotinum that invokes this trope (the planet's population had apparently been kidnapped from western Europe during the Middle Ages). Carter later described it as feeling like being hit by a zat blast.
  • The final episode of The Young Ones has this: After evicting our heroes from their home, landlord Mr. Balowski starts advertising the house, declaring it to be "the zaniest house on TV" and proclaims "If I'm wrong, then may God strike me dead!" God himself then hits him with a bolt of lightning from his finger.
  • At one point in MythQuest, Alex needs Thor's hammer, and steals it. When Thor finds out, he naturally hurls a few at Alex, but he somehow misses.
  • In an episode of Taxi, Louie must go to the hospital for minor surgery and is terrified. He prays to God, promising to be a nicer person, and adds that if a bolt of lightning doesn't come through the window of his room "in the next five seconds", he will consider it a sign the prayer is granted. As it happens, Alex is standing by the window, and surreptitiously steps out of the way, just in case.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: Late in "Murdoch and the Temple of Doom", Dr. Iris Bajali steals the Holy Grail from Station 4 and runs into the driving thunderstorm, pursued by Murdoch. He calls out to her to stop her, and she explains how she can fund her research with the sale of the much sought-after Grail. He tells her it belongs to God, she shouts back, "There is no God," and is struck and killed by a lightning bolt.
  • At the end of the Family Matters episode, "It Didn't Happen One Night", Steve had been trying to take Laura to a cheerleading competition out of town, but after his car broke down, they got stuck overnight in a cheap hotel with only one bed. After the two get into a fight over who gets the bed, they both agree to share, but Steve volunteers to sleep on top of the covers so there won't be any physical contact. After the lights go out, Steve assures Laura that he's had no impure thought of her, and if he's lying may God strike him dead. Cue a very loud clap of thunder and Steve sheepishly adding, "Okay, maybe just one."
  • Rome. At the end of "Egeria", the XIII Legion are being transported to Greece via galley, but are caught in a raging storm. Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus are shown crouched on the open deck, soaked to the skin.
    Pullo: This is cac, this is! I'm wet through!
    Vorenus: We're perfectly safe — a very favorable offering was made to Tritonnote  before we left.
    Pullo: Well, if he can't keep me drier than this, he can suck my cock!
    [flash of lightning — Pullo gets an Oh, Crap! look]
    Vorenus: Why don't you learn to keep your fat mouth shut?!
    [mast breaks and the galley is swamped by a huge wave.]


    Myths & Religion 
  • In many cultures, including Ancient Hellenic ones, "lightning" is described as "divine fire."
  • The common Indo-European pantheon has this as the primary attribute of the sky god Dyeus, from which developed the Greek Zeus, the Hindu Indra, and Norse Tyr; later, other gods got this attribute as religion changed over time (for instance, as Tyr was displaced in the Norse pantheon by Odin and Thor, they took on some of his attributes). However, this god was appearently associated with the daylight sky and the sun foremost; the thunderer god aspect acquired by Zeus and Jupiter seems to have been the result of conflation with other gods.
  • Classical Mythology: Zeus was well known for throwing lightning bolts. Makes sense, as besides being king of the gods, he was also god of the sky. The story of Ixion — zapped for flagrant abuses of Sacred Hospitality (e.g. trying to rape Hera while a guest in Zeus' own house) — is probably the most notable.
  • Norse Mythology:
    • Thor's thunderbolt hammer, Mjölnir.
    • Odin's spear Gungnir, which is sometimes compared to a thunderbolt and said to never miss.
  • In Hinduism, the king of the Devas Indra wields the thunderbolt and tends to throw it at people who might one day be a threat to him.
  • The NIV translation of The Bible has God raining down lightning strikes during the plague of hail, although another common interpretation of this passage is that the hail itself was on fire. The Abrahamic God otherwise is rarely depicted as using lightning specifically, preferring fire and brimstone.
    • The Prophet Elijah was known to call on God to bring fire from the sky. He called on it to win a contest with the priests of Baal. Then he called it down on a group of 50 soldiers sent by Jezebel who was upset about this. Then fire was called down on the 50 soldiers Jezebel sent after that. The Captain of the third group of 50 soldiers asked Elijah not to kill them; but this wouldn't stop them. God changed tactics after that.
  • Ukko Ylijumala (Ukko the High God), the head of the pantheon of gods worshipped in Finland before Christianity, did this. In fact, the Finnish word for thunder is derived from his name.
  • In ancient China, it's said that children who don't show proper filial piety or people who don't repay debts (usually a life debt, which both were rather Serious Business back then) will get struck by lightning as punishment. The phrase "You want to get struck by lightning?!" shows up often in period dramas, although thunder sounding is sometimes used for comedic effect in dramas that occur in present day.
    • Several of the 36 Triad Oaths mention being killed by thunderbolts as punishment for breaking them. These being The Triads and the Tongs, gunshots were often a fair substitute for lightning.
  • Yoruba tradition plays with it. Shango could fry his enemies with lightning but is most known for throwing it at people destined to follow his path. He was once a man gifted with the power to wield lighting who shared it with other Orishas after being promoted to their ranks, but because of this, each one of them has a stronger association with something else. Jakuta's meteorites are what are really associated with divine retribution.
  • Amadioha in Odinani religion if he deems you guilty. He can also send bees.
  • According to hagiography, more than one persecutor of Christian saints and martyrs was killed this way as punishment for their deeds. The most famous example is Saint Barbara's father, Dioscorus; he had his own daughter tortured and executed for converting to Christianity despite him locking her away from the world, then he was killed by a lightning bolt later that day.
  • Welsh Mythology: According to Historia Brittonum, King Vortigern of Britain, having refused to better his sinful life despite the exhortations of Saint Germanus, was killed when "fire fell suddenly from heaven" and burned him with his entire castle. Even before Vortigern, the very same thing happened to the pagan king Benlli, who had refused to admit Germanus to his city.
  • Some modern Biblical scholars believe that what Paul experienced on the Road to Damascus (which sparked his conversion to Christianity) was a lightning strike.
  • In Slavic Mythology, Perun, the local sky, lightning, and fire god (and one of the higher-ranked ones in the whole pantheon) was well-known for flinging these at another god of equal rank — his arch-rival, Veles, god of magic, water, and earth. Usually, this was done in retribution for Veles stealing Perun's belongings or doing something else to tick Perun off. Also, while the bolts were directed at Veles, Perun didn't particularly care for whatever Veles used as cover from the barrage — like, say, trees and houses.

  • In the Judge Dredd pinball, tapping a red button at the end of the "Safecracker" mission will cause a bolt of lightning to strike the criminal.

  • When the Pope John Paul II visited Australia, comedy duo Martin/Molloy suggested this would be the fate of anyone who hadn't kept up on their Bible study.
    Pope: Heya you! Tella me whatta happened at the Last Supper.
    Molloy: Well I'm sorry your Popeness, but I lost my dinner jacket and—ZAPPPP!!!!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Gary Gygax suggested blue bolts from the heavens as a possible punishment for unruly, disruptive or obnoxious characters in the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide — there is considerable disagreement about how serious he was, given Gygax's odd sense of humour, but there's no question the text is there and was taken seriously by at least some DMs.
    • A number of priest spells involve directly or indirectly calling down the wrath of your patron deity. The most traditional one is probably Flame Strike, which explicitly calls a column of fire (in some editions with some other damage type mixed in (in 3.5e, it was raw divine power, effectively Non-Elemental)) down upon its target area. Call Lightning is another obvious example.
    • In the Forgotten Realms, divine retribution via lightning bolt is not that common, as Talos the god of storms is very possessive of his exclusive dominion over lightning in Faerun. Inverted in Mulhorand, where the war-god Anhur has been known to publicly strike his favored followers with spectacular lightning bolts that do them no harm, the better to convince skeptical Mulhorandis that their mission is a holy one.
  • In The Dark Eye, this is a power of the priests of the sun god Praios; they can only harm demons and knock out magic users, though.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! Counter Trap Divine Wrath punishes an opponent's monster for activating its effect, and the artwork makes an example out of Cannon Soldier.
  • Given explicit rules in the old multisystem supplement The Primal Order, which was basically "since so many games have gods and no real mechanical support beyond handwaving for what they can actually do, here's a system for handling that". A "primal blast", which any deity could spend divine power in the form of "primal flux" to employ, would automatically hit and cut through any and all mortal-level protections like so much tissue paper, simply reducing the target's hit points (or equivalent) directly in a suitably flashy display.

  • Played with (though without actual lightning) in the play My Sister Eileen and the musical adaptation Wonderful Town. Wreck's girlfriend Helen bursts out angrily at him after noticing that he's done Eileen's laundry. As Helen hastens to leave with him, he exclaims, "If I thought about Eileen that way — may God strike me dead on this spot!" He raises his hand to heaven, and is stunned by a tremendous blast from the subway tunnel under construction. Ruth looks up and says, "He's everywhere, all right."
  • In The Adding Machine, when Charles tells Mr. Zero that he's been a slave in all of his incarnations throughout history because he wasn't good for anything else, Zero protests and says that he's had enough of playing the universe's Butt-Monkey. A sudden outburst of thunder and flash of lightning intimidates him and he clings to Charles, who reassures him: "Nobody's going to hurt you. It's just their way of telling you they don't like you to talk that way."


    Video Games 
  • Tales Series:
  • A possible outcome of angering your god in NetHack. If you've built up enough resistance to lightning to survive the bolt, the god shoots a disintegration beam at you. If you're buffed enough to survive even the disintegration beam, this provokes the response "I believe it not!"
  • La-Mulana does this when you fail to solve certain types of puzzles. Or when you attack holy relics. Or some perfectly blank walls. As they lay out in the manual, it's an intentional attempt on the part of the developers to get players out of the Try Everything mentality. In the remake, the player is warned about rooms where this can happen by the presence of an Eye of Divine Retribution.
  • Follow Honda in his plan to escape Tokyo on day 6 in Devil Survivor, and God exterminates everyone you left inside in such fashion. Downer Ending indeed...
    • However, in Overclocked, should this route be chosen, Belberith, effectively the strongest of the Bel demons, and a Demon Lord of Light, absorbs the aforementioned bolt and gets powered up.
  • One quest in Baldur's Gate II requires you to pose as a cleric of Talos. (For the uninitiated, Talos is not just a powerful evil deity, but in fact the god of lightning.) You're ordered to swear that you worship him, with failure to do so being proof you're an impostor. Actually do it, and you're struck by lightning — indoors.
  • If you worship Zeus in Age of Mythology, you get one of these as your one-off God Power. Not as spectacular as some of the others (Hera gets a whole lightning storm), but it handily One Hit Kills anything except creatures summoned by other God Powers, and Titans. It will still damage Titans for a significant chunk considering what Titans are.
    • In the Expansion Pack, it gets upgraded to a three-use power. Much better that way.
  • This is ultimately the reaction of many players to the AI in a game like The Sims. With the Seasons expansion for The Sims 2 and a little planning you can have actual lightning bolts to kill them with. The Nanny NPC's are a particularly common target thanks to their habits of wasting time, setting the kitchen on fire, and stealing from money trees.
  • The God of War Series has Zeus doing this to you in the latter two games during the battle with him.
  • Implemented by the dev team of Guild Wars as a way to emphasize the fact that being banned does in fact mean you're banned. On logging in, a banned player is treated to the spectacle of the Death God Dhuum rising from the ground and slicing them in half with a giant scythe.
  • In Discworld Noir, a disillusioned cultist decides to declare his complete renouncement of all gods from the top of his own temple. He is immediately struck by a dozen lightning bolts simultaneously.
    Mooncalf: "What were the odds that I'd get hit by lightning just as I renounced all gods?"
    Death: About one to one, I'd say.
  • In Yggdra Union, Marietta will use lightning to smite your forces. She's just doing her job as an angel, defending heaven, which you are about to invade.
  • Arguably the Best Crusader skill (until the priest patch) in Dungeon Fighter Online, Revenge of Light calls down highly damaging lightning when the blessed player is hit with attacks that deal magic damage.
  • Druids of all classes in World of Warcraft have a number of spells that are essentially this, such as Moonfire. Priests' Holy Fire ability has a similar graphic. Shamans have various lightning based attacks but their spell that resembles lightning from the skies is cast on themselves to damage/knock away foes surrounding them and give themselves a boost of energy.
  • In Drakensang Big Bad Wannabe Ulwine Neisbeck claims that not even the gods can't stop her plan. Sadly, the Gods of Aventuria disagree with her.
  • In Family Guy Video Game!, one of Peter's fighting levels has God as an NPC. Punching God results in Him calling down a lightning bolt to kill you.
  • From Dark Souls, Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight, had this as his personal method of attack, which also happened to be the one weakness of the Everlasting Dragons. He shared this ability with his knights as well: many of them wield weapons imbued with electricity, and some are even able to throw lightning bolts much like Gwyn himself, though Gwyn's still tended to be a heck of a lot more potent. In the first game, only the Warriors of Sunlight (ideological descendants of Gwyn's army) still possess this power, but in later games, the Miracles that grant lightning power have become well-known, if somewhat rare, and most high-level clerics and/or holy warriors are able to perform them.
  • There is a mod for the PC version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that kills guards with lightning if they dare mention the words "arrow" and "knee" in the same sentence. The mod maker says that "Even the Divines have grown tired."
    • Of course, vanilla Skyrim has the Storm Call Shout.
  • The player can cast two different versions in Black & White - a lightning bolt from their hand, or a blast of golden light from the sky which instantly destroys (almost) anything it hits. Enhanced versions also let them use the second variant as a Spam Attack. Oh, Crap!.
  • While not done by a god, when ever the Asuma Ninjas in Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven deliver an instant Kill attack (apply named, The Wrath of Heaven,) a bolt of lightening will strike the target. Just make sure you do not miss the target, otherwise your energy will go down to one)
  • Zeus's ult can be thought of this in Dota 2 if used properly.
  • The Final Fantasy series has the recurring summon Ramuh, whose Signature Move is named "Judgment Bolt". In Final Fantasy XIV he is actually worshiped as a god by the forest-dwelling Sylphs, and threatens to deliver his Judgment on humanity.
  • In Dragon's Crown, the Treasure Art for completing the Search and Resurrection request implies that Saint March Rosa died due to this having been felled by a lightning bolt after he started bringing people back from the dead using Medusa's blood that he allegedly got from a goddess.
  • Seen in the eighth installment of the Dark Parables. Thalassa, the sea goddess, takes revenge upon King Alexandros of Prasino, who captured and imprisoned her; she transforms him into an immortal half-lobster monstrosity, forcing him to live with his condition. Her revenge upon the chancellor who talked the king into doing this is much simpler - she just drowns him.
  • Invoked in Planescape: Torment by the Death Bolt spell. It causes a bolt of lightning to fly down from the top of the screen and strike the target. If they fail their save, they're instantly killed. If they make their save, they still take massive damage.
  • In EarthBound, the cult leader Carpainter seemingly invokes this trope by trying to obliterate Ness with a lightning bolt. However, the Franklin Badge will reflect the lightning back at Carpainter.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, this is Azama's personal skill. If you attack him while he is unarmed, "Divine Retribution" activates and returns half of the damage done to the attacker.
  • Diablo 3: The Crusader's Fist of the Heavens ability calls down a bolt of lightning, intended to invoke this. A similar spell was in Diablo 2 for Paladins as well, but while it dealt lightning damage, its aesthetic was closer to Holy Hand Grenade or Light 'em Up than it was to Shock and Awe, unlike 3's version, which is quite clearly and visibly Shock and Awe.
  • The dev team from Nexus Clash throws these from time to time as part of bans. Other ban punishments include being swallowed up by the earth, consumed by flames, devoured by insects, and vanishing from existence as if they were never there.
  • The Vestal's Judgment ability in Darkest Dungeon calls down a bolt of lightning from the heavens. Unlike her other Holy Hand Grenade ranged attacks, it doesn't inflict a stun or debuff; in exchange, it has the lowest damage penalty and heals the Vestal when it hits, also making it better at stress recovery for her (the game checks criticals for the damage and the healing separately, meaning that if one doesn't come up the other might).

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic had the balls to claim that Chuck Norris Facts are a bunch of bullshit, thus God (with Chuck Norris as head) struck him dead with lightning. A-CHUCK-A-NORRIIIIIIIIISSSS!!!!
    • He did it again after the Nostalgia Critic stated that he preferred the depiction of Him as more of a "loving" God in The Prince of Egypt as compared to the more vengeful version of God seen in The Ten Commandments. At the end of video God made a little cameo to let the Critic know that he really is more the vengeful type, then hit Critic with a lightning bolt.
  • During one Global Guardians campaign, the Blood Red King mocked the heroes for their inability to stop him while standing over the corpses of children he had murdered. Hammer-wielding superhero Byelobog, who in reality really is the Slavic "White God" of the Sun that he is named after, promptly called down one of these to justly smite the villain. The Blood Red King never mocked Byelobog again.
  • In the second episode of the web series Fear of Girls, the neurotic and irritable GM Doug Douglason gets fed up with a fawning fangirl constantly interrupting him right at the start of the game. She fails the roll.
    Doug: You are hit in the neck with a poison dart and die.
    Jasmine: Well...what are my options?
    Doug: Leave.
  • On the list of Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG, one item says that it's a bad idea to taunt Greek heroes with "Who's your daddy?".
  • In Fine Structure, some scientists discover a wide variety of superscience-based technologies. As they apply them, they discover through trial and error that using them is a fast track to being killed in various lightning-related ways, such as reprogramming your teleportation machine to bury you alive. The entity responsible for this is eventually dubbed the "Imprisoning God".
  • In Marik Plays Bloodlines episode 6, Marik, freaked out by a very angry Mel Gibson, admits that he's gay. Immediately after, he denies that he's gay, asking god to strike him down if he's lying. Immediately after, an elevator falls from the sky directly towards him, and Marik just barely manages to jump out of the way in time. When he realises it missed him, he claims this is proof that he is straight.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged - Freeza was on the receiving end for making a Blasphemous Boast.
    "If I'm really as evil as you say I am, then let God strike me down where I stand." (Bolt strikes, Freeza is completely unharmed.) "Ha! Nice try, jackass! Next time, give it your A-game!"

    Western Animation 
  • The Boondocks has a lightning strike that serve two purposes: as a retort to one of the characters who said "and if I am wrong may God strike me down" (or something similar) and it also caused the power to go out for a minute, which saved the life of a wrongly accused man who was on death row.
  • In the Donald Duck short Trombone Trouble, the gods Jupiter and Vulcan send down a thunderbolt to imbue Donald with divine power so he can punish Pete for his terrible trombone playing. It doesn't end well.
  • Spongebob Squarepants has a funny subversion, from the episode "Spongeguard on Duty":
    SpongeBob: I'm every bit as cool as Larry. And if I'm not, let me be struck by... (lightning storm flares up, SpongeBob confidently snaps his fingers) A flying ice cream truck. (cue Bomb Whistle and Shadow of Impending Doom and the bells of an ice cream truck) AND LIVE! (truck stops in midair, lands on top of him and drives off)
    Larry: (over megaphone) Please do not land ice cream trucks on the bathers.
  • Bugs Bunny has been subject to the lying version at least twice, once with a bolt of lightning and once with a train. Both times, he was underground, and in the latter case there were no train tracks nearby.
    • Foghorn Leghorn once had a moment of starting to assert his statement with a threat of lightning, but as the screen darkens and he hears thunder, he realizes what's happening and doesn't finish the remark.
  • Animaniacs has the song "Hello, Nurse!", in which Yakko and Wakko say of Hello Nurse at one point "If she's not everything we've said, then may lightning strike us dead." Cue lightning bolts.
    • Note it didn't actually kill them. Simply sent them to the hospital... to be cared for by Hello Nurse!
  • Robot Chicken has a sketch where a little kid is frying ants with a magnifying glass. He laughs "ha ha", and not two seconds later is struck (non-fatally) by a bolt of lightning followed by a much deeper "ha ha".
  • One episode of The Simpsons tells the story of the Mayflower. During a harsh storm, Reverend Lovejoy is praising God when he gets struck by lightning. He concludes that clearly kissing God's ass is getting him nowhere.
    • In “Pray Anything”, Homer starts praying for all sorts of things but when he commands God to turn the rain into wine, he gets struck by lightning.
    • After getting the part of Jesus in a Passion play, Homer starts going around in costume to openings of a local loan shark's businesses, proclaiming them to be honest or his name isn't Jesus H . . . needless to say, he gets hit, then proceeds to shout at the sky to find out if that's going to happen every time (he's on his fiftieth opening at this point).
  • Subverted in the animated adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle: In one episode Boris Badenov tells the cadre of criminals if he was lying, he'd be struck by lightning. It does, but the little rat was wearing a lightning rod under his hat!
  • Ren calling juju out.
  • South Park:
    • "Christian Rock Hard:" When Cartman is trying to sign on with a Christian label, he says he's not in it for the money and "If I'm lying, may God strike me down." Butters and Token nervously edge away from him, though nothing comes of it.
    • At the end of "HUMANCENTiPAD," Cartman flies off the handle and starts screaming at the sky and trash-talking God. The scene ends with Cartman getting struck by lightning and ending up in a hospital room.
  • Being a Fallen Angel Physical Goddess with a notoriously foul temper, Nightmare Moon from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic does this to the trio of Royal Guards attempting to rush and arrest her.
  • In the third act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Hipster Tripster", Bogus, while interacting in an Indian exhibit at the Natural History Museum, finds himself caught in the middle of a thunderstorm, before one of the Indians comes up to him and hands him an umbrella to keep him dry in the rain. However, just seconds after Bogus receives the umbrella, a bolt of lightning shoots out from the sky and strikes the umbrella, destroying it, before Bogus finds himself being chased by lightning bolts.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Blind Ambition", God uses this to light a woman's cigarette. Unfortunately, he makes a gesture a second time and blows her up.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Zanzibar", when Ed Bighead is confronted by a big unruly mob about how he's now forced to make sure his company's factories stop dumping waste into the water, he tries to sing a song to counter them. Then a hole in the ozone layer opens right over his house and gives him a terrible sunburn.
  • An episode of The Proud Family has this happen to Oscar who refuses to pay what he promised to the church he attends. After refusing he is immediately struck by lightning and burned very badly. He promptly says "Trudy, Write the man a check."
  • Kaeloo: The trope is parodied in one episode. When Quack Quack the indestructible duck decides to leave Smileyland, Ax-Crazy psychopath Mr. Cat can't control his murderous impulses and decides to attack someone else, deciding on resident Chew Toy Stumpy. Just as he's about to bring a chainsaw down on Stumpy's head, he gets struck by lightning. Stumpy joyfully exclaims "God exists!" and then he also gets struck by lightning and decides to stop believing in God.
  • ThunderCats (1985): In "Pumm-Ra", Mumm-Ra, disguised as the Thundercat Pumm-Ra, steals the Sword of Omens and tries to use it against Lion-O, despite Lion-O warning him that the Sword cannot be used by evil beings. Mumm-Ra doesn't listen and does the "Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! ThunderCats Ho!" chant. He is promptly struck by lightning which makes him drop the sword.

Alternative Title(s): Wide Angle Disintegration Beam