Follow TV Tropes


Cargo Cult

Go To
"Praise be to the bucket which is holy, never holey."
Jeremiah: So, er, what are you doing?
Cultist sitting vigil over a broken telegraph pole: Waiting for a call.
Jeremiah, "The Long Road"
A Cargo Cult is a group of people worshiping, by way of imitative ritual, some misunderstood object as a deity.

The name comes from a documented effect that World War II military forces had on natives of various South Pacific islands. Almost eighty years after the war, some tribes in Vanuatu are still building elaborate fake airfields and praying to idols shaped like airmen, runways and DC-3 cargo planes.

There is a mythical character they call "John Frum," who they believe to be the source of their prosperity. Some anthropologists think this may have been the result of American soldiers introducing themselves as "John, from [America]."

Many Cargo Cults are distinguished by a mixture of native spiritual systems with elaborate economic rituals, as capitalism has come to replace military power as the force of the developed world that is most heavily felt in daily life. Such rituals have the aim of appropriating the perceived power of the symbols.

Cargo Cult can be a metaphor for superficial imitation of a process without basic understanding of its mechanism. Those South Pacific natives weren't worshiping cargo for nothing. They observed how military forces were constantly getting food and supplies without doing any actual (by their standards) work. The only explanation that made sense was "military activity is some kind of religious ritual rewarded by spiritual deities with all the goods". So, with the military forces gone, natives have tried to reproduce the rituals - that includes imitation landing strips, wooden radio towers, coconut headphones and body paintings in the form of military insignias. The metaphor originally was coined by Richard Feynman, who used it in the phrase "cargo cult science".

Compare Mighty Whitey and Insufficiently Advanced Alien. Contrast with Sufficiently Advanced Alien. If the society worshiping the religion is post-apocalyptic, try All Hail the Great God Mickey! If the religion worships technology itself rather than as a means to an end, you have a case of Machine Worship. See also Giant Animal Worship when the "god" is a living animal.

Note: This trope is for objects being worshiped. If characters pretend to be, or are just mistaken for gods, the trope is God Guise.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, it is explicitly stated that humans built the three enormous walls keeping the titans out, yet there is still a religion worshipping the walls as gods and/or the work of gods. However, there is increasing evidence that the walls were in fact built by someone else, and the Wall Cult seems to know a lot more than they are letting on.
    • Later chapters reveal there is a grain of truth in their words, but the atrocious, bloody history behind the 'miracles' has been completely whitewashed; the 'goddess' Ymir is real, but was merely a slave who accidentally discovered and merged with an eldritch symbiote that turned her into the first Titan. Then her master-husband used her to build the Eldian empire, and ultimately discarded her corpse to be eaten by their own children so the Eldian royal-bloods would have Titan-Shifting powers, which includes the king who ordered his Titan minions to form a stone wall with their latent powers, which was sculpted into its modern form by men. Then Eren takes control of Ymir and everything goes to hell as the wall explodes.
  • In Chapter 8 of Dr. STONE reboot: Byakuya, the final panel shows a star sign being set up, as Rei's light signal does its annual appearance. The human survivors have noticed Rei's light signal, they just can't explain what it is.
  • Kino's Journey: One of Kino's journeys takes her to a country calmly awaiting the imminent apocalypse, as foretold in their holy book of prophecies, which is revealed later in the same episode to actually be the stream-of-consciousness work of a great but grief-stricken poet whose mind snapped when his wife died in childbirth.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Setsuna takes his devotion to Gundams to almost Machine Worship levels, shown by his complete and utter awe when he first saw the 0 Gundam in action right after he declared there is no God, as well as his repeated declarations of "I am Gundam", meaning the complete submission to Celestial Being's ideals by becoming the very symbol of the eradication of conflict (that is, a Gundam). Based on his reaction to the works of Ali and the Trinity team, using a mobile suit even remotely similar in appearance to a Gundam to shed blood just for the hell of it borders on blasphemy to him — seeing that Setsuna is Kurdish and spent an unknown amount of time as a fanatical Child Soldier who killed his own parents in the name of God, he's capable of a devotion.
  • In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the atomic-powered, biomechanical Humongous Mecha are refered to as "God Warriors", and the Master Computer that's been running things behind the scenes has a cult that worships it.
  • In one of the episodes of the first season of Vandread, the Nirvana crew descends upon an aquatic planet who mistakes them for their "God". They don't mind when the crew mentioned that they weren't Gods, but they do mind when the aforementioned crew was "hurting their true Gods". The Gods that they refer to? The machinelike Harvesters, the same ones that the Nirvana crew have been fighting for at least 5 episodes, who came there for the people's spinal cords (which they knew and willingly offered as part of the religion).
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has shades of this, especially SEELE. They refer to the creatures and events of the series in religious terms but their so-called "Angels" are actually pieces of alien biotechnology used to terraform planets (although since life on Earth was created by them they could be said to be gods of a sort). Their "Dead Sea Scrolls" are actually a poorly translated instruction manual.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann had an underground village that worshiped Agodego, a "face-God", a Gunman that had fallen into the village long ago. At the end of the episode, it was revealed that Magin the high priest knew what it really was, and only used the religion to help enact the harsh rules that were vital for Adai's survival. He ends up saving the day when a Beastman attacked the village and was fighting Gurren Lagann to a standstill, when Magin piloted Agodego and threw the enemy's Gunman into a deeper cave that was sealed off by it..
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Seto Kaiba sending Jaden's cards into space is shown to not only have led to an alien civilization finding them, but basing a religion and their entire development as a society around Yi-Gi-Oh, kicking off the plot. The real kicker was that this was exactly his plan. In his own words, "'Cause I figure, if there is intelligent life out there, then let's teach 'em how to duel."

    Comic Books 
  • Captain America was worshiped by a tribe of Eskimos after WWII while he was still frozen in a block of Arctic ice. Part of why he eventually thawed was because Namor, furious at what he perceived to be the Eskimos' idiocy in their choice of religion, hurled Cap's ice block into the ocean, and the currents pulled it into warmer climes. A much later story had a young man of the tribe utterly bewildered that his grandfather still worshipped Captain America.
  • The Tower King, a strip that ran in the British comic book Eagle, was set on an Earth that had collapsed into anarchy when a malfunctioning solar-powered satellite somehow bathed the Earth in radiation that made the production of electricity in any form impossible. A cult worshiping electricity set itself inside a power station, carefully maintaining the generators and pretending that electricity still existed.
  • The citizens of the "Expanding Tiger Empire" in Kamandi worship a deactivated nuclear missile, referred to simply as the Warhead. They utter such oaths as "by the mighty Warhead!", etc.
  • A nuclear weapons-worshipping civilisation turned up in one issue of the Dutch comic Storm.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Pacific Rim fanfic Domovoi, there's an island in the Pacific whose natives worship the Jaegers, the Humongous Mecha who protect humanity from the Kaiju. Subverted when it turns out the Jaegers are alive after all, and at least one is not amused at being turned into a shrine.
  • In the Judge Dredd fanfic Highway Don't Care the crazed inhabitants of the ruins of the Cedar Point amusement park worship "The Great Coaster" and use the slogans of the park "Ride On!" and "Thrills Connect" as religious mantras. The dour hero of the piece, Judge John Cornelius, appears as the anti-messiah "The One Without Fun" who heralds the coasterpocalypse via the destruction of the tea-cup ride.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: In the backstory, after some spacers dump the Mask of Darth Nihilus into Remnant's atmosphere, the mask's container crash-lands near a monastery. The monk who finds the mask assumes it's a gift from the Brother Gods and converts his religious sect into a death cult centered around worshipping Nihilus's mask.
  • In If I Could Start Again, it is revealed that Malekith at least claims that the Dark Elves are the 'chosen' of the Aether to recreate the universe in their image, an idea that Loki in particular rejects as foolish as the Aether is just a stone with no true 'loyalty' to anyone.
  • In Contact at Kobol, the Tau’ri are surprised to learn that the Twelve Colonies have twelve Zero Point Modules, which they regard as holy relics known as ‘the lights of the Lords of Kobol’, completely unaware of the modules’ true nature as a potential power source.
  • A weird pseudo-following surfaced sometime in the Naruto universe over the Ninja Log, all stemming from one Crack Fic that fashioned a LOG RELIGION centering over "The Log". Originating on, it has since gone viral, with many, many different works either mentioning "The Log", hinting at the log, or even directly referencing the log.
  • Natural Histories: The nymph-ponies in "The Quarry" form one of sorts, revering the metallic debris left at the bottom of the flooded quarry where they live as holy gifts from the spirits due to their inability to manufacture steel themselves.
  • Reimagined Enterprise: In "Ex Machina" the crew encounter a group who formed a cult around the Borg after their psychics intercepted a Borg transmission.
  • In Becoming a True Invader, the Heboadians (except for Tel) come to worship the Dibship AI, treating its emo poetry as deep philosophy. It finds them all disgusting.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Rango, the animals treat human artifacts like pipes this way for their "divine" ability to provide water in a desert. Verges on Humans Are Cthulhu at points.
  • In Toy Story, the alien toys in the grab booth at the Pizza Planet worship THE CLAW, believing those who are selected are ascending to heaven.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Taylor uncovers a group of humans who not only survived the apocalypse in the past, but had been turned into disfigured mutants. They worship an intact, unexploded bomb which they keep enshrined in St. Patrick's Cathedral.
  • In Call Me Bwana, a moon capsule carrying vital government secrets lands in the territory of the Ekele tribe in Africa. When Matt and his party arrive at their village, they find that the Ekele worship the capsule as a god and threaten death on anyone who messes with it.
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy revolves around a Coke bottle thrown from an airplane into an African tribe, who see the bottle as this. Later becomes subverted when the elders see the bottle as an ill omen because everyone is fighting to use it, but they think their gods sent it to them by mistake (hence the title).
  • The Last Movie concerns a western being shot in a small Peruvian village. The Peruvian natives begin "filming" their own movie with "cameras" made of sticks, and acting out real western movie violence, as they don't understand movie fakery.
  • Mad Max Franchise:
    • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome features an isolated tribe After the End who worships a jet airliner as their personal Mecca and its pilot, Captain Walker, as a God who will guide them to "Tomorrow-morrow Land"—that is, the world of skyscrapers and urban life that no longer exists.
    • The fetishisation of V8 engines in Mad Max: Fury Road, seen when War Boys gather their steering wheels from an altar-like pile (Immortan Joe plays right into this, due to his God Guise).
    Slit: By my deeds I honor him, V8.
  • In Men in Black II a race of tiny aliens living in a rental locker worship a watch that K left behind. When K retrieves this watch, J replaces it with his own, becoming a new deity for the locker people. They also treat a video rental card as if it were the Ten Commandments, interpreting the words in their own way. For example, "Be kind! Rewind!" is seen as "Reconcile your past in order to move into your future!" and "Two for one every Wednesday" means "Give twice as much as ye receive on our most sacred of days. Every Wednesday." Unfortunately, things start to get nasty with "Large adult entertainment section in the back."
  • Mondo Cane: New Guinea tribesmen worship the cargo planes that land at Port Moresby, and build their own imitation runway, hoping to lure a cargo plane to land.
  • Return of the Jedi: The Ewoks bowing down to worship C-3PO, due to him being a robot (though one with emotions).
  • Shredder Orpheus features this in its ending, where Orpheus's skull is worshiped as a symbol of hope for the youth, for luck in future skateboarding, and in remembrance of his defiance of the EBN.
  • The Nibiruans in the opening sequence of Star Trek Into Darkness begin worshipping the starship Enterprise after seeing it rise out of the water. In keeping with the Prime Directive, a big deal is made out of keeping the starship out of the view of the primitive Nibiruans who have "barely invented the wheel". Funnily enough, the name of the the primitive human-visitor-worshiping aliens seems to be a tongue-in-cheek nod to Nibiru, the home planet of alien visitors revered by Ancient Astronaut theorists.

  • The short story "Assumption" by Desmond Warzel features a literal Cargo Cult (in that they worship an actual piece of cargo) but eventually becomes a God Guise — a person becomes an object of religious awe because of her advanced technology (she descends from the sky).
  • In Will Self's novel The Book Of Dave, a contemporary London cab driver's diary has become a Holy Book five hundred years in the future, with savagely satiric results.
  • Borgel: Many characters worship and respect the Great Popsicle. Justified, as the Great Popsicle is the godlike essence of pure love in the form of a popsicle.
  • Played interestly in A Canticle for Leibowitz. In the aftermath of nuclear war, Roman Catholic monastaries have taken up the task of preserving as much of mankind's technical knowledge as they can. They still maintain traditional Catholicism, but they also treat technical texts and secular history with a quasi-religious reverence. It's mentioned that some groups worship technical relics more directly, with some people dying from eating electronic components as part of their rituals. The monks look down on this, but also spend years turning electronic blueprints into elaborately decorated vellum scrolls.
  • Erich von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods postulates at great length that every religion on earth is a cargo cult based around aliens possessing hilariously outdated sufficiently advanced technology who visited earth once, taught humans how to do civilization for reasons that are never adequately explained, and then left. Von Däniken's even mentions the John Frum cult as an easier-to-swallow example of a similar thing happening... and then proceeds to miss the point of the analogy entirely by implying that the effigies must have been left by the aliens because the natives were too backwards and stupid to have built them themselves. Coincidentally, the book is the Trope Maker and Trope Namer for Ancient Astronauts.
  • In City of No End, the peoples of the Depths have a shamanic religion based around praying to "pipe-spirits" that are believed to govern the City's life-support systems. The Diagnostic Manual for operating these systems is treated as a sacred text. The surface peoples are Ascensionists, who believe that their Church will grant salvation by Brain Uploading into some kind of ancient computer system that will hopefully activate into an Artificial Afterlife at some point in the future, but it's unclear exactly how much of a Cargo Cult this religion might be.
  • In Donald Kingsbury's Courtship Rite, the ship that brought the original colonists is still orbiting Geta, a bright light in the sky. The Getans don't know what it is, but they know their ancestors said it brought them to Geta, so they worship it as a God.
  • Cthulhu Armageddon: The worship of the Great Old Ones all turns out to be this as they awoke from their millennia of slumber and promptly ignored all of the various cults devoted to them. They don't even appear to be aware of most of them, treating the Deep Ones with the same disdain as their human followers. This proved devastating to most cultists while it encouraged others to pray harder. Subverted by Nyarlathotep who is actually quite interested in his worshipers and often appears to them to give them exactly what they desire, in hopes of seeing them destroyed by it.
  • The Mystery of Death, AKA the Technologists of The Darksword Trilogy, fetishized technology into a spiritual belief system.
  • The Death Gate Cycle: This is what the religion of the dwarves/Gegs of Arianus boils down to. They were originally brought by the Sartan to serve the Kicksey-winsey, a continent-sized machine meant to supply Arianus with water and the other worlds with various goods, but since the Sartan vanished they have taken to worshiping the Sartan, whom they remember as the “Mangers”, and the machine itself, complete with priests known as “clarks”. This is something the elves exploited by pretending to be gods, getting the Gegs to give them the precious water in exchange for ships full of garbage and refuse that the Gegs think is treasure.
  • In Destroyermen, the Lemurians have Sky Priests who guide their massive home-ships through the sea by using sacred scrolls handed down to them for many generations. The Sky Priests don't let anybody else see the scrolls, as they're the only ones who can read their holy tongue. When the men from the USS Walker arrive on one of the home-ships, they quickly find out that the sacred scrolls are old charts written in Latin, left there by a man who came over centuries ago on an East Indiaman. While the Lemurians accept the truth when told, the Sky Priests still bristle whenever they see a chart openly displayed for anyone to see, especially since those charts are in English.
  • Discworld:
    • The Colour of Magic, in which a Cargo Cult works. Eventually put into a very different light by Small Gods, though whether that's a retcon or a Brick Joke is known only to the author.
    • Cargo cults are considered by Ponder when he reflects that 'he didn't build Hex, he just put it together'.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: In the novel Night of the Humans, the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond find themselves on a giant space junkyard in the year 250,339. They find a primitive group of humans living in the shadow of the Tower of Gobo, the hulk of a spaceship of the Gobo Corporation (or Gobocorp) that crashed there thousands of years ago. The humans are the descendants of the surviving crewmembers, having regressed into savagery. They worship Gobo, the clown mascot of Gobocorp proudly painted on the side of the ship, as their deity, believing him to have created them on Earth and who will eventually take them away to the mythical land of El Paso. The latter they got from a broken projector showing westerns with no sound, or as they call them "Stories". It helps that Westerns usually have clearly-defined good guys and bad guys, allowing the humans to interpret the good guys as Gobo's children/apostles and the bad guys as the Bad, the enemy of Gobo. Anyone who disagrees with the teachings or claiming that the junkyard is not Earth is considered a heretic and put to death, as they must be the servants of the Bad. Being a holy shrine to them, the Tower is off-limits to all. Only once does the current leader send a "word-slinger" (the only person per generation who knows how to read) inside. The latter quickly loses his faith after discovering the ship logs.
  • Dream Park features a virtual reality-enhanced live-action roleplaying session based around the real-world Cargo Cult. In the time travel mini-Game which the Sands brothers and Eviane play early in The Barsoom Project, the cave-dwelling young savages are actually the offspring of time travelers who got stranded as children. They grew up thinking of the chamber where their parents' non-functional time machine is located as "church" and go there to pray.
  • In the third Empire from the Ashes book, the people of Pardal worship an ancient defense computer as the voice of God, using the "Holy Tongue" (the language of the former Fourth Imperium) to speak with it in such holy rituals as... "System Test"... and "High Fire Test". That same religion also condemns developing technology as heresy. Sean and crew get mistaken for Demons by the entire population and later for Angels (and their champions) by the rebels.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series:
    • Prelude to Foundation: The remnant of Spacers living in one sector of Trantor has built their life around a religion (which they call "history"), where the central pieces are reconstructed photos of the Spacer Worlds, and the main relic is a broken down Robot Maid.
    • "The Mayors": The priest of the Foundation's "religion of science" have only a superficial understanding of the Foundation's technology. This religion was created by the scientists of Terminus for the neighboring kingdoms without explaining the scientific principles behind the equipment. It was the most convenient way to spread atomic technology to the Four Kingdoms who have regressed into barbarism (The Galactic Spirit Did It). This story has Mayor Hardin showing the citizens of Terminus that this Scam Religion gives them power over the people of these kingdoms, if not the rulers.
    • The culture of Askone from "The Traders" is built around an Evil Luddite religion where all advanced tech is synonymous with the devilry of the Empire enslavers.
    • "The Merchant Princes": The "tech-men" of Siwenna, a hereditary sect of engineers and technicians, learn the operation of their nuclear power stations by rote. When Mallow asks what would happen if he destroyed a vital component, his guide's nearly incoherent rage indicates that they cannot actually repair anything important.
    • Implied to be the case in "The General", where one soldier mentions that on one of the planets which lost both contact with the Empire and advanced technology, an old microfilm reel is a relic valuable enough to build a big structure around and die defending it (religious terms aren't used, but that may be just because the Empire is not religious).
  • The Han Solo Adventures:
    • Han accidentally created one in Han Solo's Revenge when he and Chewie attempted to run a legitimate holo-theater on a water-starved desert planet. At first, the only holo he had to play was a documentary on a water planet, and he didn't realize his "customers" were forming a religion until he got a new holo and they chased him off-world.
    • Han Solo and the Lost Legacy featured a group of cargo cultists who were the descendants of the crew of the treasure-laden starship of an ancient warlord; they lived on a backwater planet for generations, maintaining sacred "landing fields" complete with mock-ups of spaceships and ritualized "communications procedures".
  • Played with in the science fiction short story "Hinterlands" by William Gibson; this time, it's humanity who are on the receiving end, and by the end of the book we're still no wiser as to how the whole thing works or why. The rule is that you must travel to a set point in space and release a radio-flare; if you do, you 'disappear' and come back after a lengthy period of time, either dead or insane, but carrying a random alien object that might be valuable. More than a little unsettling.
  • In Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, the Prebles are shipwrecked on a tropical island, where natives become convinced that Hitty the doll is a god and take her away so they can build a shrine for her and smear berry juice on her face. After Hitty spends a few days as an idol, the Prebles prepare to leave the island in a boat, and Andy steals Hitty back for Phoebe.
  • The 1984 book Interstellar Pig by William Sleator featured a small spherical object with a face — referred to as the "Pig" — which was highly sought-after by several species. At least one, an all-consuming Hive Mind ooze called the "lichen", believed it was a god of some sort that would bestow upon them eternal wisdom. It turns out that it's more like the Winslow than anything else — an incredibly annoying embodiment of ADHD that uses its reputation as an object of great power (religious or otherwise) to planet-hop like some kind of obnoxious freeloading tourist.
  • Christopher Moore's Island of the Sequined Love Nun uses the WWII setup of cargo cults, with a tribe of natives who worship the pilot Vincent and his plane, the Sky Priestess.
  • H. G. Wells had a short story "Lord of the Dynamos" in which an African tribesman transplanted to England ends up a slave in a power-generating plant. His poor English and his boss's enthusiasm for machinery result in the tribesman worshipping the main dynamo. He ends up throwing his boss into it as an offering, and later martyring himself across a high-voltage cable.
  • The Jack Campbell note  science fiction short story "Kyrie Eleison" follows the descendants of shipwreck survivors who have a religion based upon following "the Captain" and his mortal representative the first officer. Their hymn is based upon repeating technical jargon related to the original crash, that they were banished to the planet for failing to serve the captain well, and that one day those who trust in the Captain will be rescued and return to the stars.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel The Master Mind of Mars. In the Martian city of Phundahl, the idol of the god Tur has a system of controls that allow the operator inside to control the idol's eyes and speak through its mouth. The protagonists use this to their advantage by pretending to be Tur and giving the Phundahlians instructions.
  • The Last Day Of Creation (Der letzte Tag der Schöpfung) by Wolfgang Jeschke. A Catholic saintly relic, allegedly the sexual organ of St Vitus, turns out to be the breathing tube of a jet fighter's oxygen mask. How it got there is a miracle of an entirely different kind.
  • The Manna Machine by George Sassoon and Rodney Dale. The authors claim that the "manna from Heaven" that fed the Israelites in the Sinai desert came from an atomic-powered machine (the Arc of the Covenant) for creating algae provided by Ancient Astronauts. The machine would be stripped down and cleaned every seventh day, leading to the tradition of the Sabbath.
  • The Store-living Nomes in Terry Pratchett's Nomes Trilogy worship Arnold Bros (Est 1905), who built the Store. The Floridian Nomes in Wings worship Nassa, the god who makes clouds. The Nomes living on the streets of Blackbury seem to have been too busy trying to survive to come up with a religion, although the way they treat the Thing comes close.
  • Orphans of the Sky: The post-mutiny shipboard society recalls scientific and technical knowledge only in the form of ritualized behavior and poorly understood superstition. The Crew and Muties both worship Jordan — that is, the Jordan Foundation that built the ship — as a god, "Scientists" are a priestly caste who focus on memorizing and protecting dogma, and old textbooks and manuals are preserved as religious texts but, because they talk about complicated concepts that nobody actually understands, they are believed to be highly allegorical spiritual and moral treatises.
  • Jack London's short story "The Red One" is about a terminally ill European explorer who discovers a Melanesian tribe that worships a gigantic and seemingly extraterrestrial red sphere embedded in a hidden crater.
  • Harry Harrison:
    • In "The Repairman", a man is sent to repair an ancient, Ragnarok Proof hyperspace beacon on a distant planet. It turns out the builders failed to notice a few stone age reptiles. Since then, the natives found the beacon (a huge tower), and made it a holy shrine (it produced an endless spring of water as part of its coolant system). One of the priests, while cleaning inside, hit the emergency shutdown switch. The protagonist pretends to be a sentry of heaven, sent to restore the spring. After he finishes the repairs, the reptiles attempt to keep him in as a permanent caretaker — in response, he claims the heaven is angry enough to forbid entry into the tower altogether (reinforced by him welding the door shut).
    • "Survival Planet" has the inhabitants of the titular world build a religion around the need to hide in underground tunnels whenever starships show up to harvest slaves for an interstellar empire.
  • Robert Sheckley has a short story titled "Ritual" about a primitive civilization, which remembers that in the past (over five thousand years ago), they used to be visited by gods all the time. Now there is a religion based around a system of elaborate rituals which are supposed to be performed for the arriving "gods". However, for the past three thousand years, there has been a debate about whether all the rituals must be performed as always, or perhaps a feast for the gods must be prepared first. The story is centered on the debate continuing in front of two starving "gods" The newer point of "feast first" wins out in the end, and seems to win completely once the "gods'" behavior shows how pleased they are with the food and drink offered.
  • The novel The Silent Stars Go By has a fairly sensible cargo cult; the Not-Quite-Lost Colony view their terraforming manual (the "Guide Emanual") as holy writ, which in a sense it actually is. Thinking of anything that isn't in the manual, unfortunately, is "unguidely" and therefore an abomination.
  • Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination has the Scientific People, the descendants of a research team that crashed in the asteroid belt, and whose rituals are built around the scientific paraphernalia of the ship.
  • The Clive Cussler book The Storm features a cargo cult in the climax of the book, one formed when a damaged, out of control American cargo ship fleeing Japanese attack ran aground on the island. The natives still had in their possession the top secret superweapon entrusted to them by the injured American sailors, which the main character uses to rescue a hijacked artificial island.
  • The Waste Lands. The inhabitants of Lud sacrifice people several times a day when what they think is the drumming of angry ghosts is heard. Eddie is not amused to recognise the drums as the beat of "Velcro Fly" by ZZ Top with the lyrics muted, played over the public address speakers set up before the world moved on. (However, the mad Artificial Intelligence Blaine later implies that it's sent "angry ghosts" for real if the locals don't play along.)
    "You're killing each other over a piece of music that was never even released as a single!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the third episode of Andromeda the crew comes across a group of children/descendants of the Commonwealth who have survived the past 300 years in isolation. They can't read so all information has been pasted down orally making military orders into a religion. When Dylan turns up he's mistaken for a God and struggles to stop the children from destroying their enemies with solar-system destroying bombs he inadvertently unlocked for them.
  • Blake's 7:
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Face of Evil" has both the Tesh and the Sevateem do this, to different extents. Played with a bit in that they're worshiping their own technology, just from a different point in time.
    • In "The Doctor's Daughter", the humans and Hath have both convinced themselves that reclaiming "the Source" and denying it to the other race is a holy mission, having long since forgotten it's just a terraforming device both sides were intended to activate together.
  • An episode of Legends of Tomorrow has a temporal anomaly sending a Furby-like toy called Beebo to approximately 1000 AD into Vinland, the Viking colony in North America. Beebo is seen by them as something of a god, and its preprogrammed phrases (such as "Beebo is hungry") are interpreted as a call to war and conquest, resulting the Vikings conquering the entire continent (naming it New Valhalla) instead of abandoning the colony and going home. Oh, and Christmas is known as "Beebo Day" in the altered timeline.
  • Logan's Run: In "Man Out of Time", the tribe living in the ruins of David Eakins' Archive stronghold, the Sanctuary Project, worship the buildings, computers and artifacts contained therein and do not even know how to read.
  • The Red Dwarf episode "Waiting for God":
    • The race of humanoids that evolved from Lister's pet cat discovered his plan to move to Fiji (which they called Fuschal) and open a hot dog and doughnut stand, and built a religion around it. They near-obliterated themselves in a holy war over what colour the silly hats for the wait staff would be, and then the survivors left to search for Fuschal using star charts left behind by "Cloister" — the old laundry list used by Lister to line the original cat's bed. The colours fought over were red and blue. Lister, however, intended them to be green.
    • In the novelization, the cats are waiting for "Cloister", who has been frozen in time, but will one day re-emerge to lead them to "Bearth". The other cats believe exactly the same thing, except he was called "Clister". Naturally, they nearly wipe out their own species in religious war, then leave to find the promised land.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action" has the natives of a planet building their entire society in mimicry of a book "Chicago Mobs of the Twenties" left behind accidentally by an earlier starship. An incredibly info-dense book, too, as the locals even copy the fashions, automotive styling, architecture, and firearm designs of 1920's America. At the end of the episode Bones suspects he may have left some Federation tech behind, and wonders aloud if the locals might trade up from being gangster fanboys to being, well, Trekkies.note 
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Natural Law", Chakotay and Seven crash-land on a planet inhabited by primitive humans. Their women begin to wear bones and salvaged electrical equipment on their faces to match Seven's Borg implants, while the men begin to copy Chakotay's tribal tattoo.
  • Tales of the Gold Monkey: In "Black Pearl", Nazi scientists are working on a prototype atomic bomb and are using the natives as slave labor to mine radioactive minerals. On seeing the Sickly Blue Glow, they bow down and start praying.
    Arrogant Nazi Officer: The fools! They think it is the light of God.
    Nazi Mad Scientist: It is!
  • In TekWar, the children of various Tek addicts have formed an underground society, where they pretend to be members of the Knights of the Round Table.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Old Man in the Cave", Major French tells Mr. Goldsmith that there is a cult in what used to be Chicago that worships a statue made of fissionable lead as its god.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Beacon", the people of Mellweather have worshipped a lighthouse called the Beacon for 200 years. They believe that it is controlled by the spirit of their collective ancestor Seth Janes.

  • Blue Öyster Cult. Although it's not mentioned in any song, the name of the band and the cover of the album "Fire of Unknown Origin" imply, well... a cult regarding a blue oyster.
  • Referenced by name in a few songs by My Friend The Chocolate Cake. A prime example is an antagonistic variation in "The Weather Coast":
    I tell you there's been rumblings of a cargo cult
    High up in the hills
    They lost their bearings months ago
    Now they're searching for them still
  • Serge Gainsbourg’s Lolita-esque rock opera ‘’Histoire de Melody Nelson’’ ends with the titular fourteen-year old dying in a plane crash over Papua New Guinea and the Humbert Humbert-esque narrator wondering in the final track “Cargo Culte” if Papuans have found the plane with her body intact and are worshipping her.
  • Implied by the title and album cover of Men at Work album Overkill. Said cover depicts an airplane dropping a crate onto the beach of a tropical island littered with older cargo, including cookware hung as decoration and a totem pole fashioned from machinery.

  • In The Bible, it's just referred to as idolatry, which is worshiping manmade objects as God, which God is strongly against and equates to being the same as adultery, which here is being unfaithful to God. Even objects that were made by godly people like Moses, such as the bronze serpent which cured people who were bitten by fiery serpents who looked at it, ended up being worshiped as a god unto itself by the time King Hezekiah of Judah became king. He destroyed it and called it Nehushtan ("a thing of bronze") to mock the Jews for their idiocy in worshiping a lifeless object.

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • During his Dandelion Mind tour, comedian Bill Bailey gets the crowd worshiping an oud.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: A few are known to exist in:
    • One short story shows a group of people living on a Periphery planet who, after being stranded there long enough to lose written language and all metalworking ability and thus reverting to Stone Age technology level start a new religion after one of their members sees a pair of Battlemechs fighting. There's also the infamous novel Far Country, in which a jumpship malfunction strands the passengers on a distant planet where they discover a species of primitive, bird-like aliens who worship the wreck of an old, abandoned mech.
    • The quasi-religious organization The Word of Blake is derisively called "toaster worshipers" both in and out of universe as a reference to their obsession with Star League technology. They don't quite worship tech, but it's close.
  • Call of Cthulhu adventure Glozel Est Authentique! by Theater of the Mind Enterprises. In the distant past the people who lived in Glozel, France interacted with Phoenician traders. When the traders stopped coming the people created tablets with Phoenician characters on them to try to bring them back.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting mentions a Cult of Entropy in the nation of Chessenta. This cult worshiped a giant, explicitly nonsentient sphere of annihilation (an artifact that disintegrates anything that touches it). A 4th edition issue of Dragon magazine retconned this cult into worshiping a primordial embodiment of chaos that had been trapped in the form of a sphere of annihilation.
  • Exalted: A variation occurs; before the rise of the Guild, there were many people who worshiped the Order Conferring Trade Pattern (an ancient series of magical financial networks) based on the mistaken view that the Pattern functioned by directly converting prayer into fiscal prosperity. Most of those cults are long since defunct, having proven easy marks for Brem Marst when he needed the funds to start the Guild.
  • Godforsaken: The mirrormen literally worship liquid mirror, a type of naturally occurring but rare metal that is liquid at room temperature. To them, every bit of it is part of a vast deity, a sacred object or being they are not worthy to touch — but neither is anyone else. Damaging liquid mirror is the greatest sin imaginable, and creating art with it is considered damaging it.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition, supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. Cargo cultist tribes live by collecting items from the surface world that reach the Hollow Earth as flotsam and jetsam or inside beached ships or crashed airplanes. They worship the gods that they believe send them the items and create "landing fields" to encourage them to send more.
  • Mage: The Awakening: The Sourcebook Summoners has strange, otherworldly beings which resemble an Uncanny Valley version of planes and can be summoned to drop powerful items down on the summoners.
  • Rocket Age: Some of the natives of Io, a ruined wasteland of a moon, have taken to worshiping the detritus left behind by Earthling explorers, who looked very much like gods to them with their gleaming Retro Rocket.
  • Sufficiently Advanced includes Cargo Cults as one of the types of civilizations PCs can come from. Due to the hectic far flung nature of the diaspora, and the insanely advanced science of most of the cultures cargo cults are incredibly common, and the PCs can end up dealing with them fairly often. Interestingly, the original premise for the game was entirely based around cargo cults, until the creator had a better idea.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Man's comprehension of technology has fallen so sharply that humans believe that all technological devices have spirits that have to be appeased through prayer and worship before they will work properly. Although this is something of a subversion, since it actually works. While parts of the rituals are implied to be unnecessary and can be skipped over in an emergency, they also include everything needed to actually build and maintain all of humanity's advanced technology. In the case of Titans and Land Raiders, which are at least partly sentient, even the worship can be necessary since it isn't a good idea to upset a 100 metre tall robot with enough firepower to wipe out entire armies.
    • The Orks of Blood Axes Clan imitate Human uniforms and military paraphernalia, believing them to be extremely powerful magic charms. This includes Nobs sporting looted Commissar caps to increase their leadership skills, Stormboyz ordering attack patterns nobody but the Nob is actually familiar with (and generally just boil down to "yell and charge" anyway), and any number of Orks adorning their guns with off-center targeting sights that they don't actually use anyway.

    Video Games 
  • After the End: A Post-Apocalyptic America features several religions with cargo cult-like traits. The Rust Cultists and the Atomicists are the clearest, with the Rust Cult holding reverence for the technology of old and the Atomicists worshipping the power of the atom (as represented by, amongst other things, old nuclear reactors). The Americanists are mainly All Hail the Great God Mickey!, but aspects of this trope creep in in their veneration for the surviving 'holy' texts and monuments of the Founding Fathers. The Consumerists raise consumerism to a religion inspired by the remnants of old shopping malls, but don't actually exist until several years into the game.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: At Skopp City, there's a group of cultists who worship "The Void", a crater of darkness that's actually called LIMEN. They embrace the supernatural 'gifts' that emerged from the crater and consider that they will become part of the crater by embracing it.
  • In Avernum 3, you encounter a Cargo Cult that seems to worship random junk they've collected or stolen from various places. They do worship some valuable artifacts as well, but that doesn't make them any less deranged.
  • In Destiny, the Vex, an already advanced and incomprehensible race of robots, came across the Black Heart - a fragment of the Darkness even more advanced and incomprehensible they they were. They saw no other option than to worship it. This was later explained in the Book of Sorrows to be a subversion; after they encountered the Hive and their Religion is Magic powers they tried it themselves, then kept doing it because it worked.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The Imga, a race of intelligent "ape folk" native to Valenwood, revere the Altmer (High Elves) as the portrait of their ideal and seek to emulate the Altmer in any way they can. This includes shaving off their fur, powdering their skin, using noble titles with no idea of their meaning, and acting condescending and haughty towards humans and non-elves. In-game literature describes the attempts as pitiful.
    • The Rieklings, a race of diminutive blue-skinned humanoids native to Solstheim who somewhat resemble "ice goblins", are known to scavenge and hoard detritus from the more civilized races which they then "form a strange attachments" to and have even been witnessed worshiping these relics. These items include all manner of sellable items, to weapons and armor, to the remains of a crashed experimental airship.
  • Fallout:
    • Throughout the series is the Brotherhood Of Steel, a post-apocalyptic military order with shades of a technology-worshiping cult. Their goal is to prevent the mistakes of the past and stop anyone from abusing advanced technology, but how they go about this depends on the location and time period. Some chapters work to prevent the misuse of technology while defending and developing communities as pseudo-feudal overlords, while other branches have become paranoid isolationists who hoard technology, will forcibly confiscate anything more sophisticated than a pipe rifle from any wastelanders they encounter, and are even willing to kill anyone that might share their knowledge with outsiders.
    • Fallout 3 introduces the Children of Atom, a cult that worships the unexploded atomic bomb laying at the heart of the settlement of Megaton. The group is initially more of a pest than anything, since its preacher continuously rambles about Atom's holy Glow, but the Broken Steel add-on reveals a darker side to the group when a member starts tainting purified water with radiation in her efforts to bring Enlightenment to the rest of the Capital Wasteland. They get worse in Fallout 4, where most cult members are hostile enemies who attack anyone they see with Gamma Guns and Nuke Grenades, while one group even attempted to get into a pre-War missile silo to grab its warheads. The branch encountered in the Far Harbor DLC is so eager to experience the glory of Division that they're willing to commit mass suicide by detonating a nuclear missile in the sub pen they're based at. Fallout 3 also has Sudden Death Overtime, a hockey-themed Gang of Hats. They have a rather misguided idea of what ice hockey was actually like, and are convinced it was about "icegangs" like them duking it out in massive arenas.
    • Fallout: New Vegas: In the Old World Blues DLC, the lobotomites of the Big Empty have created a shrine dedicated to toasters.
    • Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel also features a cult of Ghouls worshiping a nuclear weapon as a God, which they named Plutonius.
    • In Fallout 4, the denizens of Diamond City, constructed in the ruins of Fenway Park, have a nearly religious appreciation for "The Wall" that protects them from outside attacks. This was actually the name of the ballpark's "Green Monster" before it got its signature paint job in 1947.
  • In Final Fantasy XVI, the Crystalline Orthodox is the state religion of the Iron Kingdom. They worship the Mothercrystals, gargantuan crystals that produce magic, as gods. While the other nations of the world mine smaller crystals from the Mothercrystals to use their magic for daily life, the Orthodoxy sees the practice as sacrilegious, shuns all use of magic, and wages a holy war to take the Mothercrystals from those who would use their power.
  • In Guild Wars 2 the Grawl will often form religions based on old statues or rock formations which they think represent a god. This has included an abandoned shrine of Balthazar, a crystal meteorite from the Searing, and a statue of the Norn Jora.
  • The Covenant from Halo. In addition to worshiping the Forerunners as literal gods, the Covenant hold all technology created by them as holy, to the point where any attempt to even just try to better understand, much less improve or modify, any technology reverse-engineered from Forerunner ruins runs a big risk of being seen as heresynote .
  • Horizon Zero Dawn:
    • It is revealed that the basis for the Nora Tribe's All-Mother is actually the door to a vault that only responded to Aloy's presence. Though this is also an unusual example, in that the tribe got surprisingly close to the truth. The original Nora were Raised by Robots, including one named Mother. The is also a true AI, GAIA, who was in charge of terraforming the world as well as re-seeding the first generation of new humans. The Nora had no way of knowing about GAIA, but their myths of the All-Mother and her defeat of the Metal Devil aren't particularly far off.
    • The Carja's worship of the Sun is apparently based on an old astronomy textbook, and when they found a shining tower they declared it a sacred site. The tower is actually part of GAIA's subordinate function MINERVA, used to shut down the Faro Robots that had destroyed the world. They also have a Devil-figure called the "Buried Shadow" that is the opposite of the Sun, the other half of nature that is part of the cycle of the world. HADES, one of GAIA's rogue subordinate functions, pretends to be the Buried Shadow to manipulate them. Interestingly, the myth of the Buried Shadow sounds quite a lot like HADES before it went rogue, with all the talk about destroying the world so that it can be remade again.
    • Forbidden West introduces the Tenakth, a cargo cult based around the United States military. The founders of the tribe discovered the ruins of the Mojave Battlefield Memorial Museum dedicated to the heroism of Joint Task Force 10 during the Hot Zone Crisis (with some embellishment, as the museum’s backers had a very particular view of what happened during the crisis), and organized their society along the lines of their ancient heroes.
  • In The Outer Worlds, the people of Halcyon colony have Undying Loyalty in corporate brands even when the people in charge of these companies are incompetent and usually working against their interests. They pepper everyday conversation with company slogans and often insult and fight with fans of rival companies.
  • PlanetSide has the Vanu Sovereignty, a cult of scientists, cyborgs and other weirdos who have been "touched" by the technology of the lost Precursor who once dwelt on Auraxis and now wage war with the goal of "enlightening" the rest of humanity, whether they want to be enlightened or not. It's heavily implied that the artifacts themselves have brainwashed the cultists and are driving them to spread their creed to the other humans on the planet.
  • Project Eden has the earth people, who live on the ground (everybody else lives in a really tall skyscraper) and mentioned they would be scared to live so high up, in case they fell down like the rubbish they collect.
  • In the Beat 'em Up, Shing!, It's revealed that the Starseed and the Worldsprout, are in truth some type of energy cores which fell from a crashed starship, affecting the environments they landed in before later being utilized by the locals who presumed them to be mystic artifacts. The one who stole both of them, did so at the behest of the ship's AI, who needs them all to restart the ship, she reveals to the heroes the cores were poisoning the planet when they arrive in search of them.
  • When information about an upcoming Splatfest is announced in Splatoon, it is represented as a message "from on-high" coming through an old 1990s fax machine with candles ceremonially placed around it. In the single-player campaign for the first game, the Sunken Scroll depicting the fax machine even has a vague metaphysical blurb on it. Word of God states the fax machine is receiving and printing out various mundane arguments that were transmitted into space thousands of years ago, and reflected back to Earth.
  • Stick War takes place in a setting where various factions have sprung up worshipping various weapons (not even magical or divine weapons, just weapons in general), to the point of building monuments devoted to them. The Excuse Plot of the first game was that your faction is the setting's Only Sane Man that doesn't worship weaponry and are seeking to unite the continent.
  • Tomodachi Life: a dream one of your island's residents can have involves them and their neighbors marching around a massive random item and praising it like a god.
    "All hail the Virtual Boy!"
  • The native Nali in Unreal are a simple, agricultural race with at best medieval Earth-level of technology, believe the extraterrestrial artifacts are sacred relics – for instance, they call the Skaarj rocket launcher "the Stick of Six Fires", which "came from the Nali water god when the star fell from the sky", and put it on a holy pedestal.
  • WildStar has the Ascendancy, a cult of augmented beings obsessed with turning everyone else into cybernetic horrors like them. They see omniplasm and augmentation as a means to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence they assume the Eldan had gone to.
  • In Borderlands 2, the Bloodshot bandit gang formed a cargo cult around the arms dealer Marcus, who they gave the title "The Gunbringer." Their rituals involve standing around large gold (painted) statues of him (a portly Eastern-European man with a crew cut and douche-'stache) and chanting "GUNS! GUNS! GUNS!," with the occasional praise thrown in for good measure. The funny part is, Marcus doesn't care overmuch who buys from him, cash is plentiful, and he has vending machines that sell both guns and ammunition to anybody who comes to call.
  • Stick War: Most of the factions you fight worship ways of combat so much that they wage war over it, and have monuments for them. Your nation, Order, is not one of these, and your goal in the game is to break these monuments down.

    Web Animation 
  • OverSimplified: In the War of the Bucket, the people of Bologna are depicted as bucket worshippers.
  • In Red vs. Blue, some of the Battle Creek Grunts, most notably the Red Zealot, appear to worship their respectively coloured flags.

  • Cargo Cult is about an uncontacted tribe in the Pacific Islands who saw WWII soldiers radioing for supplies, thought it was some kind of ancient ritual, and managed to combine tribal magics with airline protocols to cause a weatherstorm that knocked a commercial airplane out of flight and onto their landing strip.
  • Demon Fist: The "Holy Relics" turn out to be high-powered technology. Examples include a semiautomatic pistol, a sniper rifle, and a nanomachine-encoded Pandora's Spear. No word on whether or not magic is just Pandoran technology as well.
  • Homestuck: After John enters the Medium, one of the salamanders comes across his discarded ghost-print bedsheet and becomes convinced the it's a mystical "Rag of Souls", which he then wears. An extensive cult ends up forming among the salamanders and later other consorts, who believe their replicated robes to be holy and to bestow peace on those who behold them.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • When Elan visits an island filled with primitive orcs, they treat him like any other human... until he brings out Banjo, when they start bowing in supplication. That's right: the orcs thought that Elan's kooky hand-puppet was a god. Elan also thinks Banjo's a god. He's actually pretty stoked that someone else is acknowledging it, although he's not so happy that the orcs won't give Banjo back. Technically, Banjo probably is a god. Possibly the weakest god imaginable, but, somehow, divine nonetheless. This is due to OotS using the Gods Need Prayer Badly rules.
      Durkon: But... but thar na real gods! Thar puppets! Cannae ya see tha thar just puppets?!?
      Elan: The only way to settle this dispute between two gods is with a pie-eating contest!
      Orcs: hooray!
    • Banjo's existence as a newborn god is discussed as a way to thwart stage four by replacing the Dark One's Divine Quddity with Banjo's in the ritual to seal the Snarl forever, but ultimately dismissed by Roy due to Banjo's lack of experience and followers.
      *Elan begins to freak out*
      Roy: ... And because he's a puppet.
      Elan: Oh boy, you had me worried there.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger uses this trope to deconstruct the Alien Non-Interference Clause. The ANIC of that universe, the "First Law", was designed to stop con men from making use of this trope on less civilized worlds, not, say, prevent an alien probe from eating people of that world because they didn't have Faster Than Light travel. A later comic put the ship's captain on trial and found him guilty of eight million counts of negligent homicide for that stunt.

    Web Original 
  • Google now has a church.
  • Inglip is about several conflicting cults of 4chan bloggers who all worship the Word Salad human confirmation demands of the Catchphalog anti-spam plugin some websites use. It spat out "[name of deity] summoned" one day, and they began praying to these imaginary gods, using Catchpha to supposedly receive edicts from them (such as "Do Cracke" and ordering its followers to have an orgy by using an obscure word for "party").
  • SCP Foundation:
    • A few SCP objects are considered parts of a god worshiped by the Church of the Broken God. One in particular, SCP-882 has had at least one known cult worship it due to its effects.
    • In the Doctors of the Church hub, the Foundation itself becomes one After the End.
  • SMPLive has a cult dedicated to bread run by ShadowApples.
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon: The community memetically considers the Helix Fossil a deity. Later runs would add to this, creating a pantheon of Fossil Gods.

    Western Animation 
  • Similar to the example mentioned under Comics, in Batman: The Brave and the Bold features a group of humanoid tigers that worship a still-active nuclear warhead, referring to it by the letters painted on the side; "ICBM". The Joker, when traveling to said future, invoked the old "What does this button do?" gag, promptly blowing the planet to smithereens.
  • The animated short film Blind Eye follows two children who escape from an underground cult that worships a giant eye. Once they escape and reunite with their grandmother, they learn the supposed giant eye was really a small hole in the ground, and now their fellow escapees are blindly worshipping a new giant eye, which is actually the sun.
  • CatDog: When the titular conjoined duo get stranded on an island surrounded by constantly speeding cars that inexplicably keep racing in a circle around the island, Cat crafts a god out of an old tire and some planks of wood. He prays to be told what to do and begins to hallucinate. The face that appears is that of a demonic-looking panther with glowing red eyes. Its advice?: "Eat the dog."
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers:
    • In "Kiwi's Big Adventure", a tribe of Kiwis worship the Ranger Plane as a deity and expect it to give them back their ability to fly.
    • In "The Case of the Cola Cult", a large group of mice in tunics worship a defunct soda brand. While the leader and his followers are sincere in their beliefs, the second-in-command turns out to be secretly hoarding the "wordly possessions" the other worshipers have given up.
  • Given a quick jab in Futurama, which references the Planet of the Apes films (see above).
    Fry: You guys worship an unexploded nuclear bomb?!
    Vyolet: Yeah, but nobody's that observant. It's mainly a Christmas and Easter thing.
  • In the Jonny Quest episode "A Small Matter of Pygmies", a tribe of pygmies worships airplanes: they have have small statuettes of airplanes in the place where they perform human sacrifices.
  • The Simpsons: In "Homer Loves Flanders", Marge points out the figure Homer is addressing as God is just an old waffle Bart stuck to the hall ceiling. Homer ends up eating it, and declares it tastes "sacrelicious".
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In "Schnit-Heads", Heffer joins a cult that worships sausage.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Club SpongeBob", SpongeBob and Patrick have an almost-deific reverence for a Magic 8-Ball-like toy called the Magic Conch.
  • Taz-Mania: In "The Bushrats Must Be Crazy", the Bushrats start worshiping Jake's rubber duck.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011 the Book of Omens is an Ancient Artifact, the singular source of history, mythology and theology for the Cats of the kingdom of Thundera. Lost for generations, Shrouded in Myth, Famed In-Story and dogged by skepticism, it's reputed to be a Great Big Book of Everything, the source by which its kings orate their history, a Tome of Fate to the order of Clerics who maintain its Ancient Traditions, and a source of fascination to those who believe its tales of Lost Technology. Two of Thundera's best generals were sent questing for it for years, but when Thundera is invaded by ancient Outside-Context Problem Mumm-Ra, head Cleric Jaga reveals that it's definitely real, and sends young Prince Lion-O racing to find it before Mumm-Ra can. Once discovered it appears to be a Blank Book, but is actually a Magitek computer that will reveal the key to defeating Mumm-Ra.
  • In the original Transformers cartoon, the second-season episode 'The God Gambit' has a tribe of Rubber-Forehead Aliens on the moon Titan worshiping a statue that looked vaguely Transformer-like. Then Cosmos crash-lands on the planet, and they start worshiping him instead. He is deactivated at the time. Then Astrotrain arrives, and starts taking advantage of all this nonsense.
  • In the episode "What Goes Down Must Come Up" of The Venture Brothers, a group of orphans forgotten in a fallout shelter base a society and religion on a learning bed that plays fragments of educational videos about hygiene made by Jonas Venture for his son Rusty (and also on VH1 Classic). This gets complicated when the real, grown-up Rusty stumbles upon them and unplugs the bed. For bonus points, they also worship a nuke, but... oddly...
    Cultist: He tuned Father out!
    Rusty: Yes, I killed your God. Oooooo!


Video Example(s):


The Box Club Song

The Box Club is a Club that worships boxes if it was not clear enough, they aree also the main antagonists of the first half of the arc

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / CargoCult

Media sources: