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Dark Messiah

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"There is no true symbolism of the center. The Sharmat will believe there is. He will feel that he can cause years of exuberance from sitting in the sacred, when really no one can leave that state and cause anything more but strife."
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, "The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon 11"

It's a Crapsack World, and things are only getting worse. There are heroes, but the status quo won't let them cause more than a few ripples of good in a sea of Black-and-Gray Morality. Out of this ambiguity comes a savior, someone who brings hope to the downtrodden and preaches a utopian vision of peace and prosperity for all. However, they aren't afraid to fight fire with fire. In a world where moral absolutes are impossible to find, they will use underhanded tactics, preemptive strikes, and other acts of Radical Terrorism in their quest to bring about that perfect world.

No, they're not The Antichrist (well... not necessarily anyway), but a character with delusions of (or actual feats to back up) being a Messianic Archetype. As a "messiah", the heroic version of this character doesn't hesitate to sacrifice themselves for the masses; in fact, they would die a thousand times and just as well accept a life of torture to reach their goal, but they will also not hesitate to grimly murder thousands in kind and torture many more to achieve that end. The thing is, they've graduated from the school of Utopia Justifies the Means. So while they'll hug orphans, they won't hesitate to make them with bizarre doctrinarian attacks on the Powers That Be. Naturally, they'll also likely be a Dark Shepherd, with at least part of their charisma coming from the fact that their followers are terrified of what will happen if they end up on their bad side.

More tragically, they may be a Fallen Hero (or fallen messiah) who has suffered so much that they have revised their belief system from rainbows to car-bombings. They'll usually be a Knight Templar, with enough good acts and intentions to stay from outright villainy, but they stand on very slippery and muddy ground. If the hero upsets their plans enough, or they get another tragedy or Heroic BSoD, you can bet they'll go Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. After all, anyone who tries to improve the world through active effort is doomed to failure or Karmic Death, because Ambition Is Evil. Expect the sympathetic and/or successful ones to claim that there is No Place for Me There.

The "villainous" version of this character is usually hiding behind a more traditionally good messiah image. They may secretly be a Straw Hypocrite False Prophet, but just as often, they are terrifyingly fervent in believing their messianic message and getting others to do the same. May or may not be secretly spreading the Religion of Evil, but usually assembles a Cult around themselves; may or may not have good as their ultimate goal.

Almost always operates on Übermensch or Totalitarian Utilitarian mentality. May or may not be a Magnificent Bastard Byronic Hero. Compare with A God Am I for those who want to take their messiah claims to one level higher. Contrast with All-Loving Hero, The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified. Has nothing to do with the video game Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. See also Apocalypse Maiden, The Antichrist. When put against the All-Loving Hero or the Messianic Archetype, that's a Dueling Messiahs dynamic.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • Griffith is a definite example. He cares for the weak and helpless everywhere, fights tyranny and cruelty, and everyone loves him. However, after getting imprisoned and tortured within an inch of his life, he sold his soul to the evil Godhand to become its fifth member Femto, hired demons as enforcers, and ruthlessly killed anyone who opposed his rise to power, including the Band of the Hawks that he once led, whom he sacrificed in order to become Femto in the first place. And in a later arc, Griffith is called an actual Messiah by the people. He has the Crystal Dragon Jesus equivalent of the Pope proclaiming him to be the best thing since sliced bread. We, the readers, can only cringe in expectation of the devastation that will ensue. And to make it even worse, since he still possesses at least a significant amount of a Godhand's power even though he was supposedly reborn as a human, and seems to still be backed by the other four demon lords, he actually IS a Crystal Dragon Anti-Christ, who is currently posing as a Dark Messiah. No matter how bleak things are already, they WILL get much, MUCH worse.
    • Bishop Mozgus is a twisted destroyer of blasphemy who took in and nurtured deformed, sick, and dying train as his indiscriminately torturing inquisitorial hitmen.
  • Black Clover:
    • Licht is the charismatic leader of the Eye of the Midnight Sun, a group of rogue mages loyal to him, making them believe that he will reincarnate them into their true forms and establish a new kingdom. He thinks of himself as the one chosen to resurrect his fallen race, and genuinely believes that he'll cleanse the corrupt Clover Kingdom of its sins by killing all humans.
    • Lucius Zogratis sees himself as being the world's savior who'll bring true peace by "repairing" mankind through destroying humanity and then recreating their bodies through his siblings' magic to be equal so that there will no longer be any conflict and discrimination, with him ruling over humanity as the final Wizard King. While he considers himself the savior, he sees Asta as the flaw of the world for being born without any magic that has to be eliminated for a "just future".
  • Bleach: The Emperor of the Wandenreich, Yhwach, is the prophesied Sealed King of the Quincies and their supposed salvation. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, he is a very, very dark and wicked figure. He was born with strange healing powers that could cure anything, even restore missing limbs. For these miracles, people referred to him as YHWH, one of the names of the Abrahamic God. The price of his healing is a drastically shortened lifespan, as he can recall the power he used from the target's soul at a later date, killing them in the process. When he enters the Royal Palace, he addresses the Soul King as his father. Several of the Sternritter, especially Lille Barro, outright consider him a god.
  • Aion in Chrono Crusade seems to fancy himself as one of these — at least, for his fellow Sinners. He preaches that his dream is "freedom" and it's his goal to achieve it, at any cost. He's willing to (and does) sacrifice his followers and himself if it means his dreams will be realized.
  • Lelouch Lamperouge, the main character of Code Geass, is a nicer version. He seeks to overthrow of The Empire that killed his mother and means well (most of the time), but even at his best, he's shot a dog or two — some of whom he even unleashed himself. And he's obviously aware of his status, as he ends up setting himself up as the ultimate tyrant and concentrating the hatred of the world on him, so that when he's killed, the world can finally unite in peace.
  • Death Note has Light Yagami. He intends to annihilate all the evil and worthless people from the world for the good of humanity. This also includes almost anyone who opposes him and tries to stop him, even if they happen to be otherwise upstanding enforcers of the law. His tendency to deceive and often betray those around him doesn't help, and at one point he even changes the emphasis of his message from "and I shall be god of that perfect world!" to "And I shall be GOD! of that perfect world."
  • Their boss Kai comes off as this to the cross-eyes group in Dorohedoro to the point they maintain a shrine for him in his absence. While his followers see him as a saviour to the oppressed weak magic users they're not aware of his true goals and identity.
  • Dragon Ball:
  • The Black King of Drifters leads a war of genocide against humanity to create a future for the demihumans. He claims to have tried to save mankind but was betrayed by them, and so will give his love to the demihumans instead, teaching them and caring for them. The Ends all follow him as the savior he portrays himself to be.
  • Fairy Tail: The Black Wizard Zeref genuinely wants to see the world become a better place and even created an entire country where he rules as a relatively benevolent Emperor, though he himself admits he didn't create Albareth for the sake of being a ruler. His very motivation for becoming an Omnicidal Maniac is "to cleanse the world of its sins", and is perfectly prepared to die to atone for his own which was why he created E.N.D. out of his little brother Natsu's dead body. He even has twelve disciples in the form of the Spriggan Twelve, as if Mashima was intentionally invoking the trope. Hell, even his plan to "cleanse the world" is this. He plans to capture the limitless magic within his former lover Mavis and use it to time travel back to the past to stop himself from becoming immortal. To him, he views his existence as having brought untold calamity to the world in the various magic users looking for his artifacts, emulating him, and so on. And he's unfortunately quite right as most of the villains could be traced to him as their origin, with the main exception being ironically the most dangerous one, Achnologia. However, it would in fact destroy the world in the sense that Natsu and everyone would not exist by changing the past.
  • Fist of the North Star has Raoh, who after the nuclear apocalypse that engulfed the world, took the name Ken-Oh (meaning "King of Fist") and began a campaign of conquest to take over what was left, and instill order in a chaotic age. His name became feared, especially by enemies; and revered by his loyal followers. He is, however, like his brothers Kenshiro and Toki, considered to be a hero of Hokuto Shinken, and had the appellation: "The Conqueror of the Century's End", in contrast to Kenshiro: "The Savior of the Century's End".
    • In one arc, it was believed that Toki, the kindest of Kenshiro's older brothers, applying the art of Hokuto Shinken to heal the sick and wounded, to the point he was revered as a savior, had turned evil and instead used his art to abduct and experiment on innocent people. This turned out to be a subversion, as Toki was being impersonated by a man called Amiba, who after an encounter with Toki that didn't go well, tried to ruin Toki's good name out of spite, while he was imprisoned. The real Toki is every bit the warm-hearted savior he was initially believed to be.
    • Shin is a straight example, in fact the very villain that started off the series by giving Kenshiro his infamous seven scars on his chest and stealing his fiancee. His men were fanatically devoted to him, and he took the title of "King" as he went out on a brutal conquest of territories, and using the wealth his army looted to build the city "Southern Cross" with a golden pyramid as its stronghold. However, his motivation for doing all of this to earn the love of the object of his affection, Yuria — Kenshiro's fiancee. Raoh is basically Shin on a grander scale. Interestingly, Of the Nanto Roku Sei Ken ("Six Sacred Southern Star Fists"), six masters of the Nanto styles whose destiny and style is shaped by the stars of the South Dipper constellation, Shin's corresponds to "The Star of Martyrdom".
  • In the Grey-and-Gray Morality world of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, it's really hard to designate any characters as really good or evil. However, Kuze is the country's most dangerous top terrorist, who is fighting for the cause of the Korean and Chinese refugees that have to live in massive internment camps in Japan as third-class citizens. In one of his first appearances, he tries to cut off the Prime Minister's head with a katana while she is meditating at a temple, and his ultimate plan is to build nuclear bombs and hide them in major cities, forcing the government into cooperating with his plans. To his men, he's not only a great leader but becomes something like a religious figure. Which really isn't helped much by his white hair and skin and preference for white longcoats. While some of his methods are radical, he subverts this trope, turning out to be one of the nicest guys by the end of the season.
    • His last words are even a paraphrase of Christ's.
  • Gundam:
    • Paptimus Scirocco from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam could certainly qualify. Though he is introduced as a textbook Manipulative Bastard and his motives are shrouded in mystery throughout the series, his Motive Rant in the last episode seems to hint at this.
    • Char in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack.
    • Chairman Gilbert Durandal from Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny as well. He really is out to save the world, he just goes way, way too far in his attempts to do so (including sending assassins after Lacus and Kira just because he figured they would try to stop him), while convincing most of the planet that he is their saviour.
    • Ribbons Almark from Gundam 00. Which is only appropriate, since he's a stand-in of Scirocco.
    • Flit Asuno becomes this in the second generation of Gundam AGE after witnessing Yurin's death at the hands of Desil Galette, which leads him to becoming the savior for the corrupt and genocidal Earth Federal Forces.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: McGillis Fareed has admirable goals in wanting to reform the corrupt and oppressive Gjallarhorn, but he's willing to employ some underhanded tactics in order to further his goals, including backstabbing close allies and funding human experimentation. He especially becomes this after he leads an open revolution against Gjallarhorn and claims Gundam Bael, declaring himself Agnika Kaieru's successor.
  • The Claw from GUN×SWORD, where people he has met practically worship him like a god and are willing to do anything he asks or to make him happy. This includes killing anyone that gets in the way of his dream.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has Dio Brando. One of his closest followers proclaims that he "loves him as he loves God" while the other one cuts off his own head when Dio merely asks him for a bit of his blood. The rest of his legions of followers that he doesn't outright brainwash are all insanely devoted to him and all too eager to announce that devotion. Hol Horse is the only exception, being an amoral cowardly mercenary who only serves Dio out of fear and constantly looks for ways to backstab him.
  • William James Moriarty in Moriarty the Patriot is genuinely trying to end inequality in Britain and save people from abusive nobles...but he's become a mass serial murderer in the process. Points for at least recognizing what he's doing is wrong.
  • Naruto:
    • Pain (real name Nagato). Despite his A God Am I kick, he recognizes his own mortality, but before he dies, he wishes to first deliver the world from its current cycle of self-destruction by destroying the current system completely and replacing it with his, no matter how many people suffer or die in the process.
    • Tobi aka Obito Uchiha also considered. He thinks he is living in a Crapsack World (with a fair amount of justification, it must be said) and resents how This Is Reality is in effect with regards to heroes, ie. that very often heroes actually fail. As such, he thinks the only place heroes and dreams can truly exist is in a dream world, and he intends to create just that, even if he has to enact an Assimilation Plot to do it. Sets up a deliberate contrast to Naruto.
    • Madara Uchiha considers himself to be. He grew up in a warring states period that claimed most of his family, and learning that chakra was originally a gift that the Sage of Six Paths intended to connect humanity but instead ended up escalating wars, he determined that the only to peace was to become the Jinchuuriki the Ten-Tails and trap the entire planet in a Lotus-Eater Machine.
    • Finally, Sasuke Uchiha wanted to become one. (Seeing a trend here?) After a long period of wildly changing goals, he, like his predecessors, concludes that there's only one thing to do to stop the endless wars: sever the past. By which he means kill all the Kage, kill the Tailed Beasts, and kill Naruto.
  • Former Marine "Z" from One Piece used to be an upstanding believer in justice, but after losing one too many things to pirates...
  • Makishima Shougo from Psycho-Pass committed a number of terrible murders and terrorism in order to liberate Japan from an Orwellian Big Brother Is Watching regime that quantifies and criminalizes emotions.
    • Kamui Kirito in the second season follows this trope even more closely, to the point that he even assembles a Cult-like following that will do anything to see his plans come true.
  • My Hero Academia: Tomura Shigaraki develops into one of these with time; as a character, he has many of the traits of the Stock Shōnen Hero, including being a Messianic Archetype... for the villains. He starts to become a uniting factor for the downtrodden and outcast of society, enciting them to rise up and overthrow the hero-centric society that failed to ever save them when they needed it, creating a world of total anarchy and destruction where anyone can do whatever they want.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has the witch Kriemhild Gretchen, who is the witch form of the eponymous character. This witch wants to absorb all life within her labyrinth to create an equivalent of 'heaven'. And she is so strong that she's been stated to achieve this within 10 days. Nobody has managed to defeat this witch yet. However, Madoka managed to flip all that when she wished to kill every Witch in existence before they're created, including her own, thus becoming the Messiah.
  • Shishio Makoto from Rurouni Kenshin, whose goal is to eliminate the Meiji government, which he views as weak and inferior (and even his enemies don't deny that point), and start a new era in Japan in which everyone must live under his rule, and only the strongest can survive.
  • Most of Saint Seiya's Big Bads have been some flavor of this.
    • The Pope / Gemini Saga wanted to protect the world and thought Athena was too weak to do it.
    • Poseidon thought humans were destroying the planet and wanted to flood the world to start it over right.
    • Hades is the odd one out, he just wants to kill everyone so he can rule over the dead world. His minions however believed him to want to create a land without suffering.
    • Hades/Alone from Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas is especially poignant because his reasoning to kill everyone is that, since life is pain, by becoming an Omnicidal Maniac and god of the land of the dead he can ensure they spend eternity in a painless Heaven analogue. However then the real Hades retakes control and wants to proceed with plain old mass genocide, no utopia.
    • Mars in Saint Seiya Omega wants to save the world... specifically, by saving Mars (the planet). However, that requires draining the Earth of energy and using it to make his planet a paradise. He'd move the humans who swear allegiance to him to Mars.
  • Messiah from Undertaker Riddle wants to open the door that will join the living world with the afterlife and change their places, meaning all the dead souls of the afterlife will be resurrected but all the livings will die.
  • King Canute the Great in Vinland Saga intends to end the Viking Age, by creating strong, centralized leadership over Scandinavia and England so he can 'save' the vikings from their life of violence, getting them to settle down and stop plundering Europe and each other. This, of course, puts him into conflict with other would-be kings of Scandinavia and England, not to mention that he'll need the help of the vikings to get the power and wealth he'll need to create that state.
  • Dartz from Yu-Gi-Oh! was trying to destroy the world and rebuild it without the flaws.
  • Shinobu Sensui from YuYu Hakusho, who was one Face–Heel Turn away from being considered an actual Messiah.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Ra's al Ghul is partially immortal, and his intelligence and Magnificent Bastardry can only be matched by Batman. With an army of devout followers to boot. In one alternate history, he completely conquered the world and killed off all the super-powered heroes. Though to be fair, he is less villainous than usual examples.
    • The Batman Annual story Messiah of the Crimson Sun features a genocidal villain who intends to Death Ray the world and remake it in his image. It's actually Ra's al-Ghul — se above.
  • Korvac during The Korvac Saga. Despite his claims of wanting to bring order and prosperity to the universe, his eagerness to kill and control others reveals him to be an evil savior-want-to-be.
  • Glorious Godfrey of the New Gods, who preaches the word of his master, Darkseid, all in the name of taking over the universe. During the Final Crisis, Glorious Godfrey's role as the Mouth of Sauron to Darkseid is taken by Justice League of America villain Libra, who fashions himself as a Dark Messiah for supervillains.
  • Abu Adallah in Shooting War masterminds a conspiracy against the US military occupation of Iraq, and dies for his cause. He engineered a nuclear apocalypse in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
  • Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) in Watchmen to some extent. He causes the deaths of millions in order to unify the world and prevent the nuclear Armageddon he believes is otherwise inevitable. The comic itself refuses to either obviously support or condemn his actions. However in the sequel Doomsday Clock, after his plan fails he goes Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, becoming even more of a narcissistic Manipulative Bastard. After he's shot by the Comedian he expresses a desire to die a martyr and is distraught by Rorschach saving his life.
  • X-Men:
    • Magneto will do anything to make the world a better place for mutants, even if it means terrorism or all-out war. He has often been nicknamed by his followers as the "Mutant Messiah" and stands in darker contrast to his friend and counterpart, Charles Xavier. Depending on the Writer, though, as some of his actions have been very heroic. In Ultimate X Men, Magneto is written as the leader of a cult or a terrorist organization. The usual anti-hero aspects of mainstream Magneto are removed to reinforce this trope.
    • Apocalypse sees himself as the steward of mutant civilization. Given that he's been overseeing it for the last 5,000 years, it's hard to disagree with him, though Professor X and Magneto have emerged as his equals in the present day. Despite his name, his actual evil quotient varies Depending on the Writer, and as of 2020, he's actually joined with the X-Men (as has almost every mutant villain they've ever faced).
    • Magneto himself once referred to Cyclops as this after the latter's descent into severe anti-heroism — though his many actions have restored the mutant race that once seemed doomed to dwindle into extinction.
  • X-O Manowar: Aric of Dacia is an Anti-Hero example. He finds out that he is the messianic figure of an evil alien race known as the Vine after bonding with their worshiped deity, the symbiotic armor Shanhara. However, due to having previously endured enslavement and torture from the Vine, he vows revenge against and is determined to destroy them. While initially regarding him as a sacrilegious abomination, the Vine come to realize he is their chosen one after all and begin to revere him as such. He ultimately fulfills his purpose as Messianic Archetype when he saves the Vine from the Torment, the alien race that used to oppress them.

    Fan Works 
  • I, Chrysalis: The Topaz Queens are the changeling race's messiah. The changeling Queens and the changeling's equivalent to Celestia and Luna, they represent everything the changeling Queens stand for: deception, ruling by force, and taking whatever they want.
  • In Ages of Shadow, Boaz was personally trained by his religion's goddess in order to lead his people to greatness. This would sound pretty good, except that it's a Religion of Evil, the goddess in question is an insane Fallen Hero-turned-Eldritch Abomination, and "leading to greatness" means conquering the world. Gets upgraded to The Antichrist when he's resurrected even more powerful than before, and intends to destroy modern civilization and take over what's left afterwards.
  • Child of the Storm has a slightly unusual example in Doctor Strange, a Byronic Hero and the series' Magnificent Bastard in chief, who's steadily arranging things (and manipulating people) into the optimum arrangement to oppose Thanos. He also sometimes segues into Dark Shepherd if his usual manipulations don't cut it (a rare thing indeed). Unlike most, though, he's got no delusions about being a messiah (he's closer to Moses), instead seeking to arrange the coming of a Messianic Archetype in Harry (who, as the Dark Phoenix, veers dangerously close to this territory in his own right), is unhappily aware that he's become He Who Fights Monsters, and while he thinks his actions are a necessary evil, he is determined that no one should have to become like him.
    • Magneto used to be this, being referred to in-text as 'mutantkind's Dark Messiah'. Now, he's closer to Reformed, but Not Tamed; genial, affable, and grandfatherly, he's broadly heroic and a good teacher... and also absolutely terrifying when the need takes him.
    • Surtur is a textbook example of this trope, earnestly believing that his vision will make the universe a better place. Like another example from this story, he's also a Dark Phoenix. The original, in fact.
  • In Dark Prince Marco the Mirrorverse Star is an Evil Genius who conquered and turned her timeline Repressive, but Efficient but has no friends other than Mirror Toffee.
  • Socrates the Wise from The Conversion Bureau: A Beacon of Hope created an entire nation on Deliberate Values Dissonance.
  • Baron Wastes of Owl's Hell That Ends Well is hailed as one by the imps, as he claims to be leading an uprising on the Ars Goetias, desiring to free Hell from their greedy, selfish and cruel rule and bring it back over to the hellborn, having already gathered a strong, loyal following from his desires. Despite his words and claimed however, Baron is not a good man himself. Not only is he very mentally unwell and paranoid, killing his own men in violent matters, for supposedly betraying him, he comes off as a bit of a hypocrite as he dresses himself in rich garb, wanting to be seen above the other imps and one the same level as the very Ars Goetia he seeks to overthrow. And then there's the amount of abuse, humiliation and trauma he inflicted upon Octavia, when she was still a young child.
  • Kayaba has become one in Persona: HEAVEN (Afreaknamedpete), he wants to give everyone the power to be the god of their own world regardless of their own morality, the people he has to sacrifice to make his ideal a reality, or who gets in his way.

  • Lampshaded in Bad Boys II, when the Big Bad has himself painted on a giant mural of his mansion as Jesus.
  • Joseph Balsamo a.k.a. Cagliostro in the 1949 film Black Magic starring Orson Welles. He uses his talent as a Hypnotist to make himself seem like a Jesus type Healer but is in fact motivated by greed and revenge. He then plans to use his Mind Controlled Doppelgänger of Marie-Antoinette he's in love in an Evil Plan to become ruler of the world by starting The French Revolution. At first, he doesn't actually believe his divine claims, but then he losses it and goes full-on A God Am I. He is a cunning villain and the plan would have worked if not for the interference of Anton Mesmer, who first helped him discover his gift.
  • Blade is somewhat viewed as this by some of the vampires in the Blade Trilogy. While many fear him as their Boogeyman, many see him or the very least his blood (particularly Frost, Eli Damaskninos and even Drake) as the key to the salvation/future of the vampire race. Frost and his cronies needed his blood along with the 12 pure bloods (only got 11) in order for Frost to ascend as La Magra the blood god. Damaskinos needed his blood to perfect the vampire virus so he and his brood may become daywalkers, and Drake himself, already a daywalker commented that Blade would ensure the future of the vampire race (from his final lines, Drake considers Blade to be the first of a new breed of vampire). Frost in one deleted scene even referred to Blade as "their salvation"...
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), the Lord Marshall is worshipped by the Necromongers with almost religious reverence. He is the half-dead post-human who has pilgrimaged to the Underverse and returned a holy Galactic Conqueror. His rule is absolute and he is destined to lead his people beyond the 'Threshold' to the alternate realm, although he's not immortal; the post is permanent until the Lord Marshal either dies of old age or is killed by an aspiring commander, and a new Lord Marshal succeeds him.
  • Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian (1982) styles himself as a prophet that will cleanse the world and manages to rally a massive following to consider himself an Evil Overlord.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Bruce Wayne has shades of this, being an Übermensch Messianic Archetype who has made numerous morally questionable choices.
    • Bane in The Dark Knight Rises is unambiguously this, and a Magnificent Bastard Übermensch to boot. However, it turns out that while he is willing to die for the cause, he doesn't actually care about 'liberating' Gotham at all, and whether he even believes that destroying Gotham will help make the world a better place is ambiguous. He's just devoted to the Hidden Villain, whose plan this was.
  • Dune (2021): What Paul Atreides is destined to become, according to his visions. He doesn't take his destiny of being responsible for the death of billions well at all:
    • In the sequel, he eventually embraces his destiny after fighting against it for most of the movie. He destroys the Harkonnen and Sardaukar forces, but after the other Great Houses refuse to acknowledge him as emperor, he unleashes the Fremen on them in a holy war.
  • Fight Club: Tyler Durden collected followers from the titular boxing club, promised them Better Living Through Evil, and used them to reset society to a freer, more primitive state. Besides that, he died for his cause, in the hopes of creating a legend.
    Narrator: Where would Jesus be if no one had written the gospels? ...You want to be a legend, Tyler, man, I'll make you a legend. I've been here from the beginning. I remember everything.
  • President Judd Hammond in Gabriel Over the White House has some ideas about how to solve the problems of the 1930s, problems like The Great Depression and the organized crime epidemic. Ideas like taking dictatorial control of the United States, dissolving Congress, establishing a State Sec "Federal Police", conducting drumhead courts martial, and standing mobsters up against walls for summary execution.
  • In life, Nahalla in The Ghost Dance was a leader of a violent cult offshoot of Ghost Dance religion, which strove to hurt the white overtakers as much as possible.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service: Valentine, the Big Bad attempting to enact a genocide, sees himself as a messiah. He encourages his guests by comparing his plan to Noah's Ark. Claiming that neither Noah, God, nor the animals are the villains, and that like them, they will all bring in a new age.
  • Subverted in Lord of Illusions. Nix presents himself as a dark savior to his cultists and they remain slavishly devoted to his revelations even after his death. When he returns he sacrifices them without a second thought for being unworthy of him and denies being their "shepherd".
  • Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road, with an emphasis on the Messiah part. He's the head icon of a brainwashed cult of War Boys in the post-apocalypse who will gladly die for him. Auntie in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome can also be considered this, as the villainous leader of a wasteland community, although she's a more sympathetic character who engages in Pragmatic Villainy.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Loki in The Avengers (2012). In Thor he's more of Anti-Villain, trying to raise Asgard's prominence by destroying their enemies in Jotunheim, but by The Avengers, his plan has changed to this.
    • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ultron initially serves as this to Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, who view him as a force to ensure peace more than the Avengers, who they see as opportunists and killers.
    • Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War is a relentless crusader determined/obsessed with saving the universe by killing half its population. His followers, specifically Ebony Maw exalt him like he is the leader of a death-worshiping cult.
  • In Moonraker, this is suggested with Hugo Drax, given the loyalty of his followers.
  • Noah gives us Noah and Tubal-Cain. For more details, see the trope Dueling Messiahs.
  • Cain in RoboCop 2 is the leader of a drug cult who treats him as a messiah-type figure who will bring the world peace and prosperity through his designer narcotic, "Nuke", despite his tendency to be rather nasty to his critics and betrayers.
  • Rogue One and its tie-in material with other Star Wars properties build up Saw Gerrera to be this. Contrasted with the more morally upright Rebel Alliance, Gerrera and his partisans are willing to use more destructive tactics and are considered terrorists. But Gerrera firmly believes his efforts are helping to fight the Empire and this is further explored in Star Wars Rebels.
  • The main villain in Waterworld leads a group of pirates onto "Dry Land" in a prophet-like manner, and it involved raiding a settlement and killing everyone in it. It is even lampshaded, given that he was referred to as "The Deacon", which means a minister of sort.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Magneto's younger self prepares to kill Nixon while declaring mutant supremacy in front of a live broadcast.

  • In Animorphs (by the same author as Everworld, below), Visser One also invokes the Messianic Archetype in order to found The Sharing, which was originally more like a cult than anything. She acquired a special male host to better fit her role as Dark Messiah and eventually had him killed, knowing that humans would tear down a leader but lionize a martyr.
  • The Belgariad: Zandramas and Harakan both try to set themselves up as these in The Malloreon.
  • Immanuel Jeremiah Branch of Mike Resnick's The Branch is a strange variation of this. He is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament but is completely self-serving and evil.
  • Darker Than You Think: The Child of Night, who both sides believe will lead the shapeshifters in reclaiming their lost empire. Multiple characters refer to this individual as a "black Messiah".
  • Mina, introduced during the Age of Mortals for Dragonlance is one of these. First, during the War of Souls trilogy, she's (unwittingly) the messiah-like figure for Takhisis, the God of Evil (well, Goddess of Evil) for the Dragonlance setting. In the Dark Disciple trilogy, she then becomes this for Chemosh. Culminates in her ascending to the position of a lesser goddess in her own right, the Goddess of Tears, embodiment of sorrow and pain.
  • The Dresden Files gives us Cowl, who, while presented as fairly antagonistic, repeatedly claims to be working for the greater good. Having a secret society that seems to include members of every single organization in the supernatural world, including a few renegades from the Denarians and an Outsider, doesn't improve his image. On the other hand, the man got a car flipped over on him and he tossed it aside, and allowed the guy who flipped it over on him to live, so...
  • Dune:
    • Paul Muad'Dib, curious in that he recognizes the dangers in his Messiah-ship, and sought to avoid them, but had the Dark Messiah moniker forced on him by his followers and reluctantly adhered to the mold.
    • His son, God-Emperor Leto II, saw it as well, but realised that he couldn't avoid it. He knew (hooray for prescience!) how future generations would see him, and was prepared to pay the moral price. Justified, in that failure to follow through would have meant the extinction of humankind. Maybe, following a path generally blinds one to other alternative paths.
  • Senna from Everworld could probably qualify for this trope — not only does she have a serious case of A God Am I (or rather, "the gods are idiots so I'm taking over"), but she manipulates a group of gun nuts from the Old World to form a cult around her to accomplish her ends.
  • Agent Ben-Canaan in Exodus is a little like this. Though he is not vicious as such, he is cunning and can be ruthless when put to it. On the other hand, he really isn't "dark" enough to quite fit this.
  • By the third book in KJ Taylor's The Fallen Moon trilogy when he embraces his destiny, Arenadd most definitely fits this trope. He doesn't care how the Southerners leave his country, but they will go; letting him kill them is just a bonus.
  • Tyler Durden in Fight Club is a non-religious, non-magical example. Even though Tyler never says he wants to be in charge he still sets himself up as the center of a cult that preaches violence and destruction as a form of self-improvement and eventually attempts to destroy society in order to save it from what he believes is complacency. His members all follow him blindly no matter how dangerous his assignments and are unable to think for themselves and hold him in reverence.
  • In The Great Tree Of Avalon, a prophecy mentions two figures: a messianic Heir of Merlin, who will save Avalon, and the Child of the Dark Prophecy, who will try to destroy it. However, a lesser-known prophecy implies the latter would be "like a brother" to the Heir of Merlin, and thus might not be as evil as he seems. Sure enough two adopted brothers, Tamwyn and Scree, seem to be the two figures, though it's not clear which is which. Eventually it turns out that Tamwyn is both.
  • Harry Potter: Lord Voldemort is certainly seen this way by his Death Eaters in the few glimpses we get of their interaction. Provides an interesting contrast with Harry's more traditional Messianic Archetype. Voldemort even dies and rises again like Jesus and his satanic resurrection ritual is a perversion of the Eucharist involving blood, bones, and flesh.
  • Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials. Though his plans include, in the short term, separating an innocent child from his soul to rip the universe apart (environment be damned) and he is portrayed to have a very haphazard respect for human life, ultimately, he's trying to allow everyone to live in freedom of thought and government, by destroying the angel who claims himself as God. Even the heroes don't like him that much.
  • The Polish The Inquisitor Cycle series by Jacek Piekara turns Jesus Christ into this trope. In an Alternate History timeline, Jesus came down from his cross, became a warlord who slaughtered every Jew in Judea, and brutally conquered the Roman Empire, becoming known as "The Butcher of Nazareth".
  • Ras the Destroyer in Invisible Man is almost a deconstruction of this type — he thinks he's going to be the leader of a revolution against white power, but in truth, he's a ridiculous figure who's easily manipulated by the Powers That Be.
  • Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, before he became the Evil Overlord he is more known as. He started out as an angel-like spirit, and turned to evil because he wanted to create harmony and control in Arda. Once he started listening to Morgoth, this turned into the desire to control all forms of life and rule the planet.
  • Nyarlatothep in H. P. Lovecraft's work often appears as a messianic figure, gathering large amounts of followers by various demonstrations of power, and seemingly working for the good of mankind. In reality, his goal is no less than The End of the World as We Know It. May be more of an Anti-Christ without the connection to Christianity, though.
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy
    • Kelsier is like this right down to dying for the cause in the well-substantiated hope that his death will enrage the masses enough to make them rise against their oppressors.
    • The Lord Ruler is a Dark Messiah made good. Turns out, he actually did save the world from an Omnicidal Maniac about a thousand years ago, but turned it into a hellish totalitarian theocracy in the process.
  • Only Villains Do That: Seiji was recruited by the goddess Virya to be The Dark Lord; in short, a fantasy supervillain. And he is - it's just that he started recruiting half the underworld to build their own self-sufficient society, while he was purging the other half for crimes against sapience. That this manages to be an improvement, no matter how bloody it gets, shows how backwards and psychopathic the high nobility truly is.
  • Luke Castellan, the champion of Kronos and main antagonist of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, fits the role rather well. Motivated by anger at the Olympian gods for the way they treat their children, Luke accepted the lordship of the Titan Kronos to destroy Olympus and usher in a new age. He recruited half-bloods to his side in order to release Kronos from his prison and overthrow the gods. Luke promised disillusioned half-bloods that they would have a privileged place in the new Age of the Titans.
    Good-bye, Percy. There is a new Golden Age coming. You won't be part of it.
  • Second Apocalypse: Anasurimbor Kellhus quickly establishes himself as a messianic figure in order to rally the kingdoms of humanity against the Big Bad. The problem is that he's a manipulative sociopath who is so completely devoid of empathy or compassion that he could as easily be a villain as a hero.
  • Melisandre from A Song of Ice and Fire is a female example, and is Stannis Baratheon's Sinister Minister. She genuinely believes that Stannis is Azor Ahai come again, and preaches a message of peace and tolerance, uniting in the name of Rh'llor, the Lord of Light. Unfortunately, Melisandre is a Knight Templar, Stannis Baratheon is completely unyielding, and worshipping Rh'llor involves blood magic and burning people alive. Since she's in Westeros, however, her faction is not much worse than most others.
  • Star Wars Legends has the Sith'ari, a Sith counterpart to the Jedi Chosen One. While the title was first used by the ancient Sith king Adas, it came to mean "perfect being", a prophesized being that would be free of limits, that would lead the sith and destroy them, that would raise the sith from death and make them stronger than before. The ancient Sith sorceress Sorzus Syn believed it to be her, as did Darth Sidious. Darth Plagueis didn't believe in it but thought the description applied nicely to him. Sidious, Syn, and Plagueis were all wrong, however, as the true Sith'ari was Darth Bane, who destroyed the Sith empire known as the Brotherhood of Darkness (which had been rendered nearly inefficient by the constant infighting of its countless members) and replaced it with the Rule of Two (the unbroken Master-Apprentice Chain which ultimately culminated in Palpatine's rise to power).
  • Jagang of the later Sword of Truth books claims he's been chosen by the Creator to create a paradise where all the needy are taken care of, while everyone works for others' benefit. He can inflict mental torture on those who can use magic and whisper into the minds of those who can't. He's also a rapist and generally terrible human being and the leader of a horde of fellow ones. He even has his own false prophet guy who sets up the religion of evil and has a scheme so they can practically live forever, luckily they both get killed and all their followers send to another dimension. Most critics of the series would also view Richard Rahl, the "hero" as one of these too. He executes people without trial, coerces countries into submitting to his rule, massacres civilians, uses torture on prisoners, and in general won't accept anything except people completely signing up to his side. All in the name of liberty, don't you know.
  • Fëanor in The Silmarillion. He does truly and deeply care about his people, the Noldor Elves. He honestly wants them to be free, and he can see the ways they've been hurt by their lifestyle in Valinor. He isn't completely wrong in considering Valinor to be something of a Gilded Cage. However, he doesn't really care about anyone that isn't a Noldo Elf: and is perfectly willing to murder other elves simply to get his hands on their ships. And then burn those ships, despite having been told that they are precious works of that culture's art. Even his care for Noldor who disagree with him only extends to being unwilling to kill them. He's perfectly fine with abandoning them in the sub-Arctic. Also, he vastly overestimates his own power in relation to the Big Bad, and gets unceremoniously Fridged as a Start of Darkness for his son Maedhros.
  • In Time Scout, Jack the Ripper.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Trends": Otis Eldridge is a charismatic leader of the Twentieth Century Evangelical Society, and opposed to the idea of manned spaceflight. He's been using his position as religious leader to incite people against John Harman's rocket ship.
  • Referenced by name in John C. Wright's War of the Dreaming: Azrael de Gray intends to be one of these, using treachery and force to create a human kingdom. Unfortunately for him, he misses the fact that there's a straight-up Messiah around already.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • "Yet one shall be born to face the Shadow, born once more as he was born before, and shall be born again, time without end. The Dragon shall be Reborn, and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth at his rebirth. In sackcloth and ashes shall he clothe the people, and he shall break the world again by his coming, tearing apart all ties that bind. Like the unfettered dawn shall he bind us, and burn us, yet shall the Dragon Reborn confront the Shadow at the Last Battle, and his blood shall give us the Light. Let tears flow, O ye people of the world. Weep for your salvation." Initially, the Dark Messiah in question, Rand Al'Thor, struggles heavily with the unthinkable notion of women being harmed. But as the books progress, he becomes increasingly disturbed, and the prophecies' promise of a world-shattering salvation seems to become increasingly more likely. Regardless of what actually happens, the Prophecies have certainly promised a Dark Messiah rather than a Messiah.
    • Many of the Dragons seem to be this. Lews Therin Telamon was seen as this because the Dark One made Lews Therin go crazy after saving the world by sealing the Dark One away, but the ensuing insanity amongst the male half of the magical population lead to the Breaking of the World.
    • Masema would be a good example, except that he's the (self-proclaimed) "Prophet of the Lord Dragon", not the Dragon himself. He and his ragtag army of Ax Crazies go around randomly slaughtering whole villages for not serving Rand devoutly enough. Rand keeps telling him to stop, but...
    • In the last book Demandred sets himself up as one of these as Bao the Wyld, a prophesied figure for the Sharans also called the Dragonslayer. It's unclear if he really is Bao the Wyld or simply hijacked the prophecy, but the former is indicated to be more likely.
  • Serapio, the Crow God Reborn from Rebecca Roanhorse's Black Sun and Fevered Star. Brooding Byronic Hero type in a Black Cloak who proclaims at one point that "everyone is my enemy"? Check. Has suffered Training from Hell and a disturbing magical ritual involving Eye Scream to become what he is? Check. Willing to die for his mission, which also involves slaughtering nearly every member of a priesthood that has ruled the continent for three centuries? Check. Subsequently becomes worshiped by a cult that had foretold and prepared for his vengeance on the priesthood? Checkity-check.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 12 Monkeys: The Army of the 12 Monkeys view their leader, the Witness, as a prophet who will lead them to paradise, with just the measly cost of destroying reality in the process.
  • Jordan Collier in The 4400. He insists that everyone takes Promicin to gain powers, knowing that it has a 50% death rate. When a method is discovered to see whether you'd live or die if injected, he sabotages the attempt because it would "polarize the world between haves and have nots". Despite being at times manipulative and bastardy, he really was chosen by the people in the future to be the messiah, with the alternative implied to be even worse than a 50% death rate.
  • Jasmine from Angel attempts to bring peace to the employing global-scale mind control to disguise her appearance and make demands regarding worshiping her, eating scores of people along the way. The existing world conditions and the effectiveness of the actual heroes fit the bill perfectly.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Gaius Fracking Baltar. Other people only really see him as this in later seasons. And they are all quickly dismissed as idiots by everyone else.
  • Homelander transitions into one in Season 3 of The Boys (2019). While he was always a self-absorbed narcissist addicted to the adulation of the masses, he eventually decides that he's sick and tired of being under Vought's thumb and wants them to serve him rather than the other way around. The Seven, as well as Vought's management, discover this the hard way when he brazenly discards the false humility he's been operating under, puts Vought on blast for controlling him, and openly declares that he's the real hero and the only one who can save the world.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Master intended to bring about his "utopia" by opening the Hellmouth and was certainly treated with reverence by his subordinates.
    • Adam was specifically described as the Dark Messiah at one point, planning to bring about a new world order ruled by demon/human hybrids, and was good at inspiring demons to work for him (even Spike said so).
  • Carnivàle:
    • Brother Justin (aka The Usher of Destruction) and Sofie, the Omega, as revealed in the series finale.
    • Even the series' designated "good" messiahs (Ben Hawkins and Lucius "Management" Belyakov) can qualify as this. The series makes it clear that being designated as an Avatar of Light doesn't make a person heroic, and that the Avatars who are destined to do great things for humankind often wind up performing some truly horrific acts along the way. To whit, Ben wound up on a chain gang for murdering two innocent people before the events of the series, and Belyakov tried to assassinate Henry Scudder during World War I, and he manipulates several characters into killing each other over the course of the series.
  • On Channel Zero: Candle Cove, Frances Booth clearly views the Creator of Candle Cove (Eddie Painter) as some sort of savior/deity, since they cured her of her epilepsy with their psychic powers, even going so far as to offer up her own son as a Human Sacrifice in the backstory. In the present, she's working to bring about a second coming by prepping Eddie's brother, Mike, for a Grand Theft Me.
  • In Cobra Kai, John Kreese fancies comes off as such, being a deeply disturbed individual who's cruel, brutal, stone-hearted, and thoroughly obsessed with forcing his philosophy of social Darwinism and mercilessness on his students, and is very good at manipulating everyone around him to ensure he is in a position to do so. By the end of Season 2, he has successfully managed to seize control of Cobra Kai and secure the Undying Loyalty of most of Johnny's students save for Miguel, Aisha, and (possibly) Bert, telling Johnny that he'll appreciate it someday.
  • Davros in the Doctor Who story "Genesis of the Daleks" has used his extensive charisma to gain unquestioned following from his own Kaled people and even many of the enemy Thals and wants to save them by transforming them into a form better evolved to deal with the coming apocalypse and become the dominant life form in the universe at large. Shame that this is achieved by turning them into tentacled blobs in pepperpot-shaped tanks that murder everything out of racial hatred.
  • John from The Fades. He sees himself as a messiah figure for the Fades trapped on Earth and plans to give them all physical forms and relatively normal lives again, but he himself is insane from being trapped on Earth unable to interact with anything, the process of giving the Fades physical forms involves eating human flesh and his actions are implied to be the cause of the apocalypse Paul dreams about.
  • The Following: Serial Killer Joe Carroll sets up a cult of like-minded people, who practice "Carrollism", and murder people to the style of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. His followers even compare him to Jesus Christ more than once. Ultimately, it's a Deconstruction of this idea, as the glaring problem with it becomes more and more apparent. He's a total sociopath who doesn't care about any of them, and they're all a bunch of total psychos. Things fall apart rather quickly.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Daenerys and Drogo's unborn son Rhaego is prophesied to be the "Stallion Who Mounts The World," (in which 'Mounts' doesn't mean 'ride' but 'fuck') the khal of khals who will unite the Dothraki and lead them to dominion over the entire world. Whilst the Dothraki naturally see him as The Messiah, as the Dothraki are seen by every other culture in Essos and Westeros as the most bloodthirsty, brutal, savage, and barbaric people in the world — and not without due reason! — he more than fits this. This is lampshaded by Mirri Maz Duur, who subtly implies that her real reason for "helping" Khal Drogo was not to punish him for massacring her village but to try and Screw Destiny, ensuring Rhaego is stillborn and can never fulfill his destiny.
    • Daenerys herself may be either this or The Messiah, the series hasn't really come clean either way and it may even be a matter of perspective. She sees herself as the rightful queen returning to reclaim a throne that belongs to her... but, on the other hand, she intends to do so by burning her way across Westeros with three fire-breathing dragons and after having fulfilled her stillborn son's destiny by unleashing the Dothraki upon Westeros. She finally makes the transition into Dark Messiah by the end of the series, burning King's Landing to the ground and killing hundreds of thousands of innocents in the process. With the city in her control, she declares that she will continue her "liberation" campaign beyond Westeros itself and "freeing" everyone in her path.
  • Heroes:
    • Adam Monroe. Thirty years before the events of the series, he gathered twelve unique individuals to follow him, termed them his 'disciples', and attempted to save the world. Does this story sound just a little bit familiar?
    • One of those disciples, Daniel Linderman, also qualifies. A self-proclaimed "humanitarian", his stated goal in life is to "heal the world"...which he plans to start by blowing up most of New York. He also comes with a set of Healing Hands that can make the blind see and the lame walk, just in case you missed it otherwise.
    • And Volume 5 introduced Samuel Sullivan, the leader of a very Cult-like carnival who is The Antichrist: he claims to be gathering together the "specials" of the world in order to lead them to a "promised land" where they can be free of Fantastic Racism, but in reality, he wants them because he becomes more and more powerful when he surrounds himself with more "specials", and he's hoping to boost his powers to god-like levels. (Which, incidentally, could easily lead to a Class 6 or possibly even Class X Apocalypse How.)
  • Kamen Rider
    • From the original 1971 series comes in the form of the Great Leader (of Shocker). Many of his subordinates see him as something of a divine figure, a perception which the Great Leader actively encourages.
    • Kamen Rider Outsiders: Zein is a supposedly Benevolent A.I. that seeks to learn human benevolence and purge human evil, and the villains come into the conclusion that humanity must be subjugated in order to establish a utopia of eternal benevolence and order. And Zein even swayed a few notable heroic Riders and their associates in the campaign against Ark and Foundation X.
  • The Last Ship: Sean Ramsey, the Big Bad of Season 2, honestly believes that the Red Flu is God's doing and that the naturally immune (such as himself and his brother) are the chosen people selected to inherit the Earth after the plague has run its course. He's insane but is also highly charismatic, capable of influencing large numbers of people to his cause — by the time he's introduced, he's already effectively conquered Europe, and quickly secures a strong foothold in what's left of America.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
    • Sauron is a nominal Messianic Archetype who started as a force of good before becoming a Fallen Angel, and whose present goal is to establish himself as both the ruler and the savior of Middle-earth, and he invites Galadriel to share this role with him. He claims he just wants to redeem himself by healing Middle-earth and rebuild everything he destroyed under Morgoth, and by that he means conquering Middle-earth and control everything.
    • Galadriel's wraith form that Sauron shows her in a vision is this. She knows that if she would accept his offer to rule Middle-earth with him, she would become tyrant like Sauron. He denies that he wants to turn her into a tyrant, he wants her to make her a fair Queen like the sea and the sun, and stronger than the foundation of the Earth. Knowing Sauron, her being a tyrant or queen wouldn't have made any difference.
  • Much as it has its own good Messiah in Locke, Lost has Ben, almost perfectly a mirror image of Locke in every way (and understandably pissed that Jacob apparently chose Locke to replace him).
  • "Evil Jesus" from Misfits.
  • NUMB3RS: Nine Wives has Abner exploiting his followers' spiritual yearnings for his own gains, posing as a savior, when in reality, he is nothing but a sexual predator and abuser.
  • Fiona a.k.a. the Black Fairy in Once Upon a Time committed herself to averting her son Rumpelstiltskin's fate of dying as the savior by turning herself into a fairy and creating the Dark Curse hoping that it would stop the one who was destined to destroy him. When her dress turns black when she was set to kill Tiger Lily, a crescent-shaped mark appears on her wrist, revealing that she was the destined darkness who was meant to destroy the savior. After being banished by the Blue Fairy to the Dark realms after severing her son's fate with the shears of destiny, she spent the next many centuries kidnapping children and turning them into labor for harvesting dark fairy dust, harvesting their power and preparing for the Final Battle, an event where Light (represented by Emma) and Dark (herself) would battle for the fate of all worlds.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The Ori and their Priors, who use belief from billions of worshipers on thousands of planets to fuel their powers. The best example, though, is Adria: The Ori's Obstructive Code of Conduct (or rather, the equally powerful Ancients' Obstructive Code of Conduct, which they also enforce on their Ori cousins) prevents them from directly attacking the masses (except in their own galaxy, where anything goes), so their knowledge and a considerable amount of power was placed in Vala's asexually-conceived daughter, who rapidly grew into a beautiful, charismatic, and very deadly adult to lead the attack. She eventually had to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence to survive poisoning...and, as such, now falls under the Obstructive Code of Conduct that bound her bosses. Oops. Worked out well enough for Adria, though, since her bosses died in the interim, meaning that Ascension gave her all of their previously shared godlike powers.
    • A more mundane example pops up early in the first season, where the leader of another SG team ends up being revered as a god by the locals and goes on a power trip. He was implied to already be a little mentally unstable before, and the adulation and plight of the local population, coupled with spending a little too much time in the high-UV radiation of the planet's star, pushed him over the edge into thinking he was a god and trying to lead his people to self-destructive salvation.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In Season 6, Gul Dukat returns from exile as an emissary of the Pah-Wraiths, becoming The Antichrist to Sisko's Messianic Archetype. Despite his being as much a schemer as ever, his belief in the power of the Pah-Wraiths seems entirely genuine.
  • The Walking Dead Television Universe:
    • The Walking Dead (2010): Negan probably sees himself as the new messiah and definitely acts like it. He claims to be doing everything for the greater good, in order to save what's left of humanity. He even acts personally offended whenever somebody fights or questions his motive. His methods, on the other hand, leave much to be desired.
    • Fear the Walking Dead gives us a straighter example with Teddy, the Big Bad of the back half of Season 6. A former Serial Killer who escaped prison at the start of the Zombie Apocalypse, he's since built a cult of followers who buy into his beliefs that since death is a natural part of life, then the destruction of civilization by the walkers should be accepted rather than resisted. As such, he and his followers intend to destroy all other survivor communities using warheads from a beached nuclear submarine for trying to preserve pre-apocalypse society, ride out the apocalypse in their makeshift bunker, and then emerge to create a new world according to Teddy's design.
  • In Z Nation, Murphy constantly flirts with this, due to his status as The Immune, his evolving zombie-human hybrid nature and subsequent psychic powers, and his generally selfish personality. And then comes the end of Season 2, wherein he learns that the "CDC lab" he and the rest of the cast had spent all series trying to get to is just a cover for the rich elite in Zona to get ahold of the zombie cure for themselves. This causes Murphy to snap, and Season 3 sees him fully embrace this role — he begins recruiting an army of followers with the promise of safety from the zombie plague and freedom from fear and want, transforming all recruits into zombie-human blends that he can mentally dominate.

  • In The Breaker New Waves, Chun Woo seems to have embraced this role after he spent the previous series avoiding it. His sheer charisma and prowess is such that the people who survive encounters with him are eager to follow him afterwards.

  • The woman described in Edge of Sanity's "Crimson".
  • HammerFall's song, "Restless Soul", seems like a great description of this kind of person.
  • Doctor Steel wants to makeover this current Crapsack World into a Utopian Playland. By force of giant robots, if necessary.
  • The unnamed founder of David Bowie's "Cygnet Committee" definitely qualifies.
  • Terrorwheel's "Redeemer" describes such a character, who uses religion to brainwash people to reach mass control.
  • Terminal Cheesecake's "Messiah" may be about this, though the lyrics are rather ambiguous.
  • Disturbed:
    • "Deify" describes such a character.
    • "The Vengeful One" has the singer describe himself as this (the music video has the band's mascot protesting the media's fixation on mass shootings by going into a TV studio and starting one of his own).
  • Metallica has "Bow to Leper Messiah!"

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Nicolas Kerensky eventually came to believe that violence was an immutable trait in humanity that could not be eliminated, but could be harnessed. To this end, he created The Clans; a society based on Might Makes Right, Honor Before Reason, and eugenics in order to isolate the damage caused by warfare to those who actually fought it. To achieve this, he took absolute power, and when one of the Clans had issues with his ways of running things, he wiped them out and eliminated all records of their existence.
  • In Chronopia, a game with clear influences from Warhammer Fantasy'', there's the One King of the Kingdom of the Firstborn. After being killed by Elves, he reincarnated as the savior who freed the Firstborn from slavery by inhuman races. Unfortunately, he combines an "I'm always right" arrogance with having a Well-Intentioned Extremist's tunnel vision. As such his neglect of them, led his prophets to join the Devout cult and his ambition to steal the Tablets of Fate would cause the Stygians to declare a genocidal global war.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Yamun Khahan, the Forgotten Realms resident Genghis Khan expy, unified the Tuigan tribes under his rule and led them in a campaign of conquest while believing to be the chosen champion of the god Teylas and destined to Take Over the World and become the Illustrious Emperor of all Peoples.
  • Exalted: Everyone can be this.
    • Canonically, the Scarlet Empress and Chejop Kejak are among the purest examples of this trope: both have killed millions and sacrificed small children because they believed that it was the only way to keep Creation from annihilation. It's an open question whether there was a better way.
    • The Malefactor Caste of the Infernals are corrupted Zeniths who serve Cecelyne, the Endless Desert. Their entire gimmick is creating societies based around strict, repressive laws. Her Charm suites allow her servants to create holy lands (by inflicting desolation because deserts are her thing), reap Essence from worshippers more effectively, interact with and feign being an entity of the spirit world, and answer the wishes of their worshipers. The best/worst part? It's implied that her core philosophy — that all laws are ultimately made to assist the strong in dominating the weak — may, in fact, be right. That's not very reassuring.
  • In Nomine: The Habbalah are a type of demons who think that they are still doing the work of God. As the most individually powerful Habbalah in existence, Vapula's particular brand of delusions of righteousness are especially inflamed. He views himself as God's chosen one, tasked with rendering down the fallen world to look for clues to divinity and thereby direct the worthy towards the path of self-perfection, ascension, and unity with the Divine — and if this means that thousands of unworthy mortals and wayvard servants must be rendered down for spare parts, well, all progress requires sacrifice.
  • Nobilis: The Devils in the third edition fell out of All-Loving Hero becoming this perspective — angels in this setting have standards that are far, far too high for what is deserving of love. Lucifer and his ilk objected violently, and now show love to every single the point where they love things like corruption, disease, and filth more, because those things have no one else.
  • Pathfinder: Asmodeus, the ruler of Hell and greatest of the Archdevils, plays this role in Golarion. To wit, his church and personal involvement staved off destruction through civil war in the powerful nation of Cheliax. As a result, his church is the official religion, his priests and inquisitors hunt down heresy and proscribed faiths, and his faith and the government are intertwined. The society runs on predation, with the government openly allowing, regulating, and even owning the trade in slaves, gladiatorial combat, the flesh trade, and so on. Devils secretly move through the society, pulling whatever string their lords demand. But Asmodeus' involvement did stop the country from falling apart, and Cheliax remains a Wicked Cultured powerhouse rather than an anarchic nation torn asunder. Even better, Cheliax views Hell as its servant, not the other way around. The Hell Knights view Hell's order as a thing to emulate as they try to undo the chaos of Golarion, and look to Asmodeus' vision of rulership for guidance. Surprisingly, they are Lawful Neutral, not Lawful Evil, despite their terrifying appearance and open admiration for Hell.
  • Strike Legion: The Empress deliberately built herself up as one of these, after concluding that fear was not a solid foundation to rule a galactic empire upon. Though a bit of a transparent Expy of the God-Emperor of Man, she is still an active ruler, not ending up as a Dark Lord on Life Support like he did, and when the love of her worshippers is insufficient to keep the peace and her fleets can't control the unruly, she can always use her Reality Warper abilities to destroy star systems to keep them in line.
  • Vampire: The Requiem: Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Christ's side during the crucifixion with The Spear of Destiny. He is patron saint of Lancea Sanctum, one of the covenants.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Subverted by the Emperor. His Dark Messiah status was only established after his death and without his consent. During his life, he spent a significant amount of time fighting the people trying to establish a church around him. Part of the reason for the crapsack state of the world at the moment is because of the Horus Heresy, which put The Emperor into a coma so he could no longer prevent the church being established. Ironically, it was caused by Chaos showing Horus a vision of the future where the Emperor was a Dark Messiah. The series has gone back and forth on whether the Emperor trying to suppress his own worshipers was a good thing... though it's agreed his current worshipers are only a "necessary evil" because they screwed everything up in the first place.
    • The Tau Ethereals went from visionaries uniting their people with great oratory skills and charisma to a caste of Dark Messiahs, being seen as leaders of the Tau's belief system while supposedly secretly controlling the entire race through Mind Control pheromones. Essentially, they can be seen as equivalent to Covenant Prophets in Halo. How did they not piss off the folks that liked the Tau being the only source of pure goodness in the universe? By stating all this through fluff; namely, the somewhat self-serving logs of Imperial xenobiologists.
    • Lorgar, the Word Bearers Primarch, somewhat ironically fits this mold. He initially thought of himself as the traditional Apostle, with the Emperor as the Messiah, and spread a religion centered around the Emperor. The Emperor (having apparently decided he had turned a blind eye to this for too long) punished Lorgar rather abruptly and heavy-handedly... by ordering one of the magnificent cities Lorgar built to be evacuated and destroyed. Having decided to turn to... other deities, Lorgar wrote the book on Chaos worship, ultimately starting the Horus Heresy. Ironically, the holy book of the cult surrounding the Emperor, the Lectitio Divinatus, was penned by Lorgar and laid down the entire framework of what would become the Imperium's state church, down to the way of referring to the Emperor in the Divine tense, years before Lorgar's fall into the worship of Chaos.
    • Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka is one of the most dangerous Ork warbosses in the galaxy and lays a good claim to being the biggest, meanest greenskin in space, as well as leader of the largest warband. He's also the closest thing to a religious leader the Orks have, as the self-proclaimed Prophet of the Waaagh! He claims that the Ork gods Gork and Mork speak to him, and he believes that he is destined to unite the Ork race and lead them on an end-to-end rampage across the galaxy to stamp everything in their path flat. Bearing in mind that if you can get enough Orks to believe something it has a decent chance of becoming true, if he didn't have the favour of his gods before, he probably does now.
  • Warhammer:
    • The Everchosen are the chosen champions of the four Chaos Gods who are determined to conquer the Old World for Chaos. The current Everchosen is Archaon, to everybody else the Everchosen is The Antichrist especially seeing how Archaon succeeded..
    • Vlad von Carstein tried to conquer the Empire to put an end to the infighting and save it from Chaos. Like many other characters in the setting, how benign his intent was is debatable.
    • The Orcs & Goblins have the legendary "Once an' Future Git", who apparently led a united Greenskin race at the dawn of time and will eventually return one day to unite them all for the ultimate battle, falling at the end of the world. Essentially, an evil orcish King Arthur, to the point that his myth revolves around him taking up his sacred axe (which, weirdly, doesn't have a name) from the Gaffastone, a big stone crudely carved in the shape of a dwarf with the axe buried blade-first in its head. The Once an' Future Git is mostly known for their status as a lore figure in the backstory of Wurrzag da Great Green Prophet.

    Video Games 
  • Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica has Infel, a Mad Scientist bent on hurling the world headlong into Sublimation. Considering the kind of Crapsack World she lives in, it makes her almost justified, especially since Croix and co.'s plans seem to be pipe dreams. She nearly succeeds too, twice. Originally, she was a grade-variety messiah. She led the project to create utopia but then things went extremely wrong, culminating in the death of her wife(?), her Roaring Rampage of Revenge Rage Against the Heavens, her hostage-taking/murder/whatever of the goddess of the world, and general worsening of the world's state, whose dying condition mandated the utopia project to begin with. Her wish for Sublimation is fueled by a desperate sense of responsibility.
  • In Baldur's Gate III:
    • Villain with Good Publicity Lord Gortash takes over the titular city through Engineered Heroics, and has the citizenry cheer him on as he turns it into a nightmarish Police State. In his eyes he's saving them from The Evils of Free Will although his perspective is skewed a bit due to him being the chosen one of the god of conquest & tyranny, Bane. In Act 3, he'll extend an offer of alliance to the Player Character which you can accept, and even if he fails in his ambitions thanks to the Absolute outmaneuvering him, you can succeed by seizing control of the Netherbrain in the ending.
    • The Dark Urge was groomed from their very conception to be Bhaal's Chosen and realize his dream of drowning Toril in an abyss of bloodshed. And they more than lived up to their role, orchestrating a series of brutal murders and colluding with Gortash and the Absolute to bring the world to heel before they laid it all to ruin...only for them to be undone by Orin's betrayal. If you play as the Dark Urge, you can end the game by reclaiming the very destiny that was denied to you...or you can tell Bhaal to screw off and seize the Absolute for your own ends.
  • In Bendy and the Ink Machine, Sammy Lawrence considers himself to be Bendy's "prophet," and many of the ink people look to Bendy as their savior. Main problem is that Bendy's a demon...
    He will set us free.
  • BioShock 2:
  • Raul Menendez in Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
    Harper: How many followers does Cordis Die have right now? What, a billion people?
    Mason: Try two billion, who'll never believe their leader's a terrorist. They think Menendez is their savior.
  • The mystics fiends in Chrono Trigger treat Magus this way, going as far as building a monument of him to worship in 1000AD. Magus himself doesn't seem to care about his messiah role, as the only reason he joined the fiends to begin with was to build up enough power to challenge Lavos.
  • Kane of the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series is the military and religious leader of the terrorist group-turned-superpower Brotherhood of Nod. A seemingly immortal genius tactician, brilliant inventor (who patented the first Tiberium-harvesting technologies) and charismatic speaker, who is also ruthless. His followers certainly regard him as a Messiah who will herald the next phase of mankind's evolution. Also fulfilling the Messianic Archetype, he is betrayed by countless Nod Generals who feel he went too far. By Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, he approaches GDI with a proposition for an alliance in order to save humanity from extinction via Tiberium. Everyone expected him to betray them rather quickly. In the end, he didn't. Turns out, he's actually an ancient, immortal alien imprisoned on Earth since times immemorial. The Tiberium Wars and the business with the Scrin was in aid of his ultimate goal: escaping via Ascension.
  • In Cult of the Lamb, the titular Player Character is the prophet of a mysterious God of Evil and the instrument of its will. The mere fact that they're a lamb specifically (an animal associated with Jesus), along with other parallels like their slow apotheosis, their backstory and their role as a spiritual leader who can send their followers to "Heaven" makes them a dark, twisted Lovecraftian-cultist Messianic Archetype. The Lamb is A Lighter Shade of Black compared to the other deities, potentially acting as a Benevolent Boss and providing food and shelter in exchange for work and worship.
  • In Dark Savior, the parallel realities storyline comes to a head when protagonist Garian must prevent his own Evil Counterpart from becoming this and bringing ruin to the world.
  • Jedah Doma from Darkstalkers. His whole spiel was to save the demon world of Makai from falling into irreparable corruption, and despite being impossibly polite and caring to those he's trying to save, he's willing to sacrifice them all in order to force Makai into a demonic version of the Rapture.
  • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, Saman, the supposed leader of the German branch of the Order, is revealed to be the leader of the Templars, a terrorist group that seeks to neutralize all biomodification technology, thus eliminating the power that maintains the rival Illuminati.
  • In the Diablo series, Lilith created Sanctuary and the ancestors of humanity alongside an angel to escape the ravages of the Eternal Conflict. In Diablo IV, Lilith has returned to Sanctuary after eons of exile to save the world and her children from both the High Heavens and the Burning Hells, no matter what force in creation she has to tear down to do it. She inflames Sin in the hearts of man so they will embrace her guidance towards this goal.
  • In Disco Elysium, Posthumous Character Dolores Dei was a Jeanne d'Archétype "Innocence" who's venerated as the Patron Saint of exploration and neoliberalism. She was both a figure capable of influencing humanity into great deeds as well as a ruthless demagogue unafraid of enforcing her will over those who stand against her, as she was known for being The Fundamentalist who violently suppressed secularism and dissent while spearheading mandatory education and colonization programs to spread her message. She was eventually assassinated by her bodyguard, who thought that she wasn't truly human.
  • The Doom Slayer becomes this in Doom Eternal, albeit not intentionally. In an Earth that is invaded by demons, you will find propaganda broadcasts telling the world not to lose hope because you're out there, and a series of logs you find follows a scientist studying your history who winds up nearly worshipping you. And what do you do to earn this devotion? Rip and tear, until it is done.
  • Dragon Age II:
    • Anders. He spends much of the game pointing out the injustices the mages suffer at the hands of the Templars, such as the beatings and rapes as well as the Rite of Tranquility. He's the leader of what he calls the Mage Underground and compares himself to Andraste, the world's Christ and Joan of Arc figure. And at the end of the game, he blows up a church full of people to start a war between the mages and the templars, fully expecting to be martyred for his actions. Whether Hawke sees him as a messianic figure or not is up to the player to decide, but Anders certainly fancies himself one. Averted in the Rivalry path — Anders will admit that there was nothing messianic at all about his act of mass murder. Rather than a messiah, Anders will see himself as just another monstrous Abomination that needs to be put down.
    • Hawke. Even if you play as Messianic Archetype, Hawke's choices ultimately serve as the catalyst for the Mage-Templar War, as the Champion of Kirkwall becomes a rallying cry for those wanting to be free of Templar oppression. As Varric's framing story can attest, a lot of good people have died in Hawke's name, while far less know who Hawke actually was as a person.
  • In the roguelike Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, if you play a Hill Orc character you can choose to worship Beogh, god of the orcs, whose priests fit this trope to a T. Your character is considered a savior by orcs you come across, some of whom will even join you in your quest. Among your other powers, you can even walk on water. All of this has led to the Hill Orc Priest's popular fan nickname "Orc Jesus". That said, the Hill Orc Priest is not a benevolent figure, or at least not to non-orcs; Beogh's stated goal is the extermination and/or enslavement of all non-orcs (as well as "heretic orcs" who refuse to serve him), and he's implied to have ripped out an angel's tongue for not accepting him as the one true god.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, deranged Physical God Dagoth Ur sees himself as this. In the same way as the Nerevarine, who is named the Hortator (a great uniter and war-leader to the Dunmer people) and who is prophesied to "destroy the false gods" of the Tribunal, Dagoth Ur believes this to be his destiny. He seeks to destroy the Tribunal, drive the Empire from Morrowind, and use Akulakhan powered by the Heart of Lorkhan to eventually imprint his own twisted mind on reality (the "Dreamer"). However, according to Vivec (one of the Tribunal deities) in his 36 Lessons book series, Dagoth Ur is the "Sharmat", a "false dreamer". Like the Hortator, they both seek to unite and destroy but the Sharmat is seen as false, the terrorist to the theorist. So Sharmat is often equalized to "The Devil" or "The Dark One", a long-lasting and specific enemy.
    The 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon 11: "There is no true symbolism of the center. The Sharmat will believe there is. He will feel that he can cause years of exuberance from sitting in the sacred when really no one can leave that state and cause anything more but strife."
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Michael may be a Mad Scientist with A God Am I tendencies. But after witnessing the Dark Strike Cannon obliterate a huge chunk of Tokyo centered on Shinjuku, he truly believes that he is called to become a god unto the world and deliver it to salvation. The only problem is, this benevolent savior's modus operandi is to develop biological mobile weapons platforms in the shape of giant angel statues that wreak devastating havoc with their laser blasts to cleanse the world's impure.
  • Fallout:
    • Caesar, leader of Caesar's Legion, from Fallout: New Vegas. At least, to his subordinates he is. The other factions don't seem to think of him as such.
    • Similarly, The Master from the first Fallout seems to come off as this to many a Super Mutant.
    • And of course, every game can be completed with perfect reputation with every mainly good faction and every religious group declaring you the Redeemer, but it's extremely hard to get there without gunning down armies of husbands and wives. The Chosen One is the likeliest fit since s/he's the only one who explicitly sets off on a spiritual quest rather than merely being sent to find something.
  • Far Cry:
    • The Jackal from Far Cry 2.
    • Joseph Seed from Far Cry 5. He inspires fanatical loyalty in his followers and honestly believes that the Apocalypse is near and that they must save as many as possible. Even if that means forcing people to join his cult at gunpoint and killing anyone who resists.
    • Ethan Seed, the Bastard Bastard son of the afore-mentioned Joseph, in Far Cry: New Dawn. He plans on replacing his father as the leader of New Eden, a cult village Joseph formed from the remnants of his old cultists and any new converts he could find after the nuking of Hope County. That said, Ethan is heavily skeptical about his father's own supposed Dark Messiah-dom, but that's mainly for selfish reasons, like resenting his father for denying him access to one of the mystical apples that Joseph used to keep his people safe.
      Ethan: I will have what you denied me. You gave it to an outsider! But you wouldn't give it to me! I am your flesh and blood!
      Joseph: That was God's will.
    • Ultimately, despite Joseph having a good reason not to trust Ethan with the fruit (namely, his unbalanced soul caused it to mutate him into a monster that the Captain had to kill) he ultimately agrees with his son that he is not God's shepherd — the Captain is, because all Joseph did was spread death and destruction in God's name. The broken Joseph asks the Captain for a Mercy Kill.
  • Kain R. Heinlein of Fatal Fury strives to build the ruins of Southtown into an independent utopia. His preferred means of doing so is by culling the weak from the strong through combat and mercilessly killing the weaklings and parasites in his city.
  • Fear & Hunger:
  • Seymour Guado from Final Fantasy X is a subversion. He believes that Sin, a giant monster that had been on a destructive rampage for centuries, can never be truly destroyed and the planet should accept death as the only escape from the Crapsack World of Spira. As such, he believes that putting the entire populace out of their misery will save everyone from pain and sorrow. However, he isn't quite as messianic as he thinks he is — as proven by how he massacres the entire Ronso settlement and smugly giggles about it in front of the heroes for no reason other than to piss them off. By the end of the game, his Sanity Slippage has hit rock bottom: with overblown speeches about how he has become an immortal harbinger of doom that will learn how to control Sin from within.
  • Final Fantasy XII:
    • Vayne. He serves as Archadia's PR representative in Dalmasca, which doesn't hide the fact that he is an accessory to the empire's brutal conquest of Ivalice (and after he assassinates his father, he ascends as emperor). Yet Vayne's motives are benevolent; he wants to liberate Ivalice from the control of the Occuria, the true villains of the setting, and give the reins of history back to the hands of Men.
    • Once the Occuria's true motives are revealed, it becomes clear that the position of the Dynast-King is actually this, instead of a straight messiah. The Dynast-Kings are given the means to mine deifacted nethicites, which they may use to subjugate anyone opposed to their message by violence. Although it's unknown whether Raithwall actively used the stones, he did manage to singlehandedly unite Ivalice's warring factions. At the very least, the Occuria want Ashe to use them to destroy Archadia, thus avenging her family and putting herself at the top of a new world order.
  • Dr. Wallace Breen from the Half-Life games. He legitimately believes what he is doing is the only way humanity can survive, from surrendering humanity to the Combine all the way to helping the Combine oppress humanity. The worst part? He may be right.
  • Halo:
    • The "noble" Prophets are the leaders of a religion whose goal is to activate the Halos in order to achieve godhood. Actually, the Halos just kill all sentient life in the galaxy.
    • Meanwhile, the Gravemind seeks to bring together the galaxy in unity and peace... by having his Flood infect everyone.
    • Jul 'Mdama leads a Covenant remnant that seeks the ascendancy of the Sangheili... and the annihilation of all humans.
    • Cortana of all people becomes one at the end of Halo 5: Guardians. Having discovered a way to survive past rampancy, she offers the AIs of the galaxy a chance to serve her for immortality. They rally to her en masse, beginning her plans of galactic domination, which she believes will bring a new age of peace and prosperity to all.
  • In Hell Night this happens to be you. The game's original Japanese title also happens to be this very trope.
  • killer7:
    • Emir Parkreiner, aka Garcian Smith. The reasons why are... obscure.
    • Andrei Ulmeyda is a straighter example. He's using a fragment of a powerful document, and turns out to not be that bad a guy — infecting himself with all the diseases in the world to become a living vaccine. However, he doesn't succeed against the Heaven's Smile virus, and that's when you're called in...
    • The two gods, Kun-Lan and Harman, their agents on earth, Emir Parkreiner and Harman Smith, are all dark messiahs. The gods don't generally care what their agents do as long as they achieve their ends, resorting to murder and enslavement. The real problem is that they work for the East and the West, respectively, and are constantly at war with each other. So whoever wins, someone else loses. This is shown in the ending of the game, which lets you decide, ultimately, if the West will be destroyed, or the East.
  • Implied in Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: The Old Republic with Revan. The Republic was getting hammered by the Mandalorians. The Jedi Council talked a good game about being the Republic's defenders but didn't want to commit to a war because they suspected the Mandalorians were operating on someone else's orders (and were right) and believed the whole thing a trap. Revan didn't much care about what may have been behind the Mandalorians when Republic worlds were being slaughtered, so Revan left with best friend Malak, they took a bunch of Jedi with them, and they proceeded to fight the Mandalorians by turning their own tactics against them, sometimes abandoning whole worlds to the slaughter so other targets would be too difficult to strike. The second game goes into more detail — Revan used the Republic's greater numbers to an advantage in multiple feints, leading to victory with a very high body count, and the war was ended with a planet-busting WMD that wiped out hundreds of thousands of both Mandalorians and Republic troops alike. And this is, technically, before Revan and Malak became Sith.
  • Noir from La Pucelle: Tactics hands out minor miracles like they were M&M's on Halloween, will forcibly stop his own demonic servants when they get overtly destructive, and honestly is attempting to create a paradise for himself and others. But he's willing to do some absolutely horrible things in order to get enough dark energy to make it happen.
  • Both Kain and Raziel of the Legacy of Kain series fit to some degree. At first, Raziel is called "pawn and messiah". Then Kain is accused of having "messianic delusions". Then both are represented as messiahs of two competing races. Then it turns out Raziel is both messiahs and Kain is actually a completely different, higher kind of messiah. I've gone cross-eyed.
  • Lobotomy Corporation has an Abnormality named WhiteNight, an angelic-looking fetus with white wings that plays this trope entirely straight, including it even being hinted to been based off the Antichrist, which is also reflected in its design with red eyes and the Number of the Beast on its collar. In gameplay proper, it will convert 12 of your employees it has blessed in its previous form into monstrous Apostles which will defend it when it breaches properly. And just to hammer in the fact that this creature is bent on playing God - when it's breaching, you can't even open the main menu or pause the game.
    • It's highly hinted that this Abnormality has another source which is Carmen, the young woman with white skin and red eyes, who was a normal Backstreets preacher though with an extremely charismatic nature and ability to go into dangerous zones unarmed, and was so universally praised that literally the only ones who didn't expouse their love for her were those who hadn't interacted with her while she was alive. It becomes obvious in the sequel that Carmen's Common Mary Sue Traits make her an Uncanny Valley Girl more than anything else, and what with her goal to make everyone express their true selves without realizing that everyone in the City is more or less Ax-Crazy she firmly falls into this trope. Really, is it any wonder that she shares her name with one of the most famous Femme Fatale in all of media history?
  • Mass Effect 2:
    Harbinger: Human, you've changed nothing. Your species has the attention of those infinitely your greater. That which you know as Reapers are your salvation through destruction.
    • A Renegade Shepard can fit this trope as well, due to the ruthless nature that he/she exhibits. Subverted with Saren, who at first seems to be one of these, but it turns out that he was being controlled by Sovereign.
  • Omega, aka Zero's original body, from the Mega Man Zero series is Dr. Weil's right hand Reploid that was destined to bring people who worshipped Dr. Wily's ideals of making heroes out of robots to a new golden age better than what X and Zero's ideals of a peaceful coexistence between humanity and Reploids could do after the Mother Elf eradicated the Sigma Virus from all Reploids after the X series by simply using the Dark Elf to control all Reploids so they cannot harm humans ever again. However, X and Zero, the latter of which is in a new body, steal the Dark Elf in an effort to turn the tide of the Elf Wars, causing Dr. Weil and Omega to slaughter 90% of Reploids and 60% of humans, betraying their human allies in the process and The Messiah of Dr. Weil to be banished into space, while his creator is caught and tried, made immortal in a cybernetic body by the Elf War survivors, and cast out into the wastleland he made himself.
  • Big Boss/Naked Snake in the Metal Gear franchise. After being betrayed by his country a lot and finding out that the only place he feels truly alive is where he fights, he manages to gather similar-minded soldiers, all of them with combination of force and charisma (and genuine care for them) that they all loyally follow his footsteps to make his dreams of a world where soldiers are always needed come true. Even he makes male followers attracted to him too.
  • Nasuverse:
    • Archer (and the rest of the Counter Guardians) from Fate/stay night. Making a long story short, they work as the Earth's Immune System: stored in a timeless pocket dimension, the Earth summons them to prevent incidents that would threaten humanity or itself (like, say, drilling for mana). They do this by hunting down and killing/destroying everyone related to the incident, innocence be damned, and then return to their pocket dimension. Archer is practically the patron saint of this because he recognizes it as the most efficient means of saving people, even if he hates it.
    • Fate/EXTRA CCC: The Big Bad of the game, Kiara Sesshouin, hopes to help all of humanity reach enlightenment and save their souls... through a magically induced mass orgy, of all things. They're explicitly identified as having a messiah complex early in the story (long before the player ever gets a hint that they're the main threat). Gilgamesh lumps all would-be saviors into this category, calling messiahs the "worst type of human being imaginable".
  • Tlacolotl from Nexus Clash recruits followers from souls who have been horrifically cursed for standing up to the free-will-crushing plans of Namm, the Knight Templar Elder Power of Law, teaching them to harness their curse to become Cursed with Awesome instead. Too bad they tend to learn too late that Tlacolotl is a tyrant no better (and quite possibly worse!) than Namm.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3:
      • Takaya, the Nietzsche Wannabe who looks a lot like Jesus, becomes this near the end of the game, becoming an internet cult leader after learning of The End of the World as We Know It and attempting to encourage everyone else to embrace The Avatar of Death coming to destroy them all.
      • According to a scene in FES, Shuji Ikuski saw himself as one of these.
    • Persona 5:
      • The Big Bad Masayoshi Shido was an Evil Counterpart to the Player Character, as the Wild Card's role in their Journey is to lead mankind to the righteous path, whereas Shido was the False Shepherd who sought to use his influence and power over the masses to convince the people of Japan he is their only hope and will lead them to a brighter future. This makes the people practically worship him to the point that they refuse to believe that he is evil even after he has his heart stolen by the Phantom Thieves, meaning that they will rather be enslaved by Shido rather than have a hopeless future. His Palace takes the form of a cruise ship floating over a sunken Tokyo with only those chosen by Shido to be on board, making it a dark reference to Noah's Ark.
      • Persona 5 Royal had Takuto Maruki, who becomes one after the completion of his Confidant and the fall of Yaldabaoth. This results in a Lotus-Eater Machine where everyone is given what he thinks they need to be happy, and any dissension is dealt with a brutal Mind Rape that is meant to convince the victim that they need to accept his perfect world to escape the pain.
  • By Resident Evil 5, Albert Wesker essentially became this: Gathered several followers and organized what can only be compared to a cult? Check. Has superhuman powers? Check, although he technically had those since post-Resident Evil. Believes himself to be God at the very least? Check. Seems to think his actions in spreading Uroboros across the planet Earth in a jet bomber is "saving" the planet? Big fat check!
  • Septerra Core presents Doskias as this. He truly believes that he is the Saviour of Septerra. Too bad he seems to be more the Destroyer of Septerra.
  • Gill, the Big Bad of Street Fighter III. Such is his influence and charisma that he was actually able to rebuild the Illuminati. His brother, Urien, is very unhappy with that, and wants to take leadership of the cult himself.
  • To a certain extent, Count Bleck in Super Paper Mario seems to be one of these, as his plan involves destroying all the current worlds so he can create a better world to replace them afterwards. In reality, he's an Omnicidal Maniac and plans to destroy all worlds and then kill himself, leaving nothing behind.
  • Artorius from Tales of Berseria is built up as being a Messianic Archetype in-universe, but it's pretty clear from the start that he is more along the lines of a Dark Messiah, having long given up on humanity and being more than willing to sacrifice everybody's emotions in order to "save" them. Throughout the game, the player learns of his Dark and Troubled Past and even how he was manipulated by Melchior... who could be seen as The Antichrist by some.
  • World of Warcraft's Sylvanas Windrunner seems to generally want to help her people and, presumably, the other races too. She seems much more (positively) emotional (though still very cold) than most other undead and is portrayed about as sympathetically as possible for a character bent on the utter destruction of all her enemies so she can raise them into undeath with her. Oh, and while she seems to have a bit of a setback due to Varimathras, most of her really nasty plagues and poisons are still around whenever she feels like killing everyone. The new Silverpine Forest questline shows her to explicitly support the raising of new Forsaken using Val'kyr. This saves the future of the Forsaken race, since they have no other means of reproduction.

  • Baron Wulfenbach, from Girl Genius. Formerly, the Anti-Hero Lancer to a pair of traditional messianic types; he was a minor noble who was exiled after an attack by The Other. When he returned, he found chaos reigning in Europe. So he conquered everything and became a ruthless dictator to maintain order and peace. And it worked. Showcased here.
  • Homestuck: After Gamzee goes sober, he starts believing that he is both of the Mirthful Messiahs worshiped by his Juggalo religion. Which is somewhat true, considering that he's a descendant of the Grand Highblood. As such, it is now his glorious duty to subjugate all the lowbloods and paint murals with their blood. As it turns out, he isn't the Mirthful Messiahs, and never believed he was. Said Messiahs do exist, however, and he eventually started serving them.
  • Last Res0rt has Veled, the 'Messiah of the Endless', who has gone on to become Ziligo's head of the military, although she comes off as more Necessarily Evil because of her precarious political situation. And now, we know that she intends to destroy the Endless.
  • Redcloak, who serves as both The Dragon and something of an Anti-Villain in The Order of the Stick, is the High Priest of The Dark One, the god of all goblinoids who preaches a better world for the Always Chaotic Evil Goblin race, who, in the Dungeons & Dragons themed world, are doomed to the fate of being Mooks for the "heroes" to gain XP from. The Dark One's plans is to use a ritual requiring arcane and divine magic to try and control the Snarl, a monstrous paradoxical entity born from the different pantheons' attempting to create the world and their subsequent squabbles and contradictions and basically coerce the Gods to make things better (as for the Snarl's power, it wiped out the entire Eastern Pantheon.) Although Redcloak preaches a better future, he is a ruthless and brutal individual who despises humans (particularly paladins, who killed his family) and once bore racism toward hobgoblins, despite his supposed role as his peoples' savior. He does snap out of the latter to try and improve the lot of all goblinoid races. However, it's clear he has done plenty of atrocities for his ambitions.
    • Lord Xykon and even Redcloak's brother Right-Eye believe Redcloak is full of it and call out his Dark Messiah routine, but for different reasons. For Xykon, it's because he figures Redcloak uses it as an excuse and hide behind his actions instead of being truly evil (though Evil Cannot Comprehend Good should be noted since Xykon does stuff For the Evulz.) Right-Eye meanwhile calls out Redcloak for the hypocrisy in trying to be their peoples' savior but working with a psychopath like Xykon (who slaughters their people for the fun), the fact that Redcloak seemed to never grow past being the angry teen he was when put on the Crimson Mantle, and that he doesn't know what the Goblin people want. The real reason Redcloak is so committed to the Plan is that quitting now would mean the deaths of all the goblins that occurred in the name of the Plan (many of whom were killed by Xykon for fun) including Right-Eye whom Redcloak murdered to protect Xykon would have been for nothing. Xykon himself lampshades this in a speech that successfully cows Redcloak into being his lackey for a long while. This contrasts against Righteye, who after a talk with Eugene Greenhilt (Roy's father), abandons his quest for vengeance and actually establishes a village for humans and goblins to live peacefully while aging normally. It worked for a while... until Xykon showed up and Redcloak chose sides.
    • The Dark One himself was this. Starting out as just an above-average goblin with better stats, he rose to become a warlord to unite many hordes and after a peace talk gone wrong left him killed, their faith in him allowed him to reach apotheosis and become a God. He then found the truth about the goblinoid races and went beyond pissed.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Glaurung is a very charismatic leader of the Crimson Coalition with great oratory skills. However, her plans of creating a utopia are... quite unorthodox.
  • Dr. Jebediah Christoph aka Jebus of Madness Combat is a defecting AAHW scientist who grew disgusted with the things he was made to create and gained quite a severe messianic complex in the process.

    Western Animation 
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes:
    • The Leader and Ultron claim to be "saving the world" by causing destruction and wanting to kill off the human race.
    • The Skrulls use this with Skrull Captain America telling humanity to surrender to the Skrulls.
  • Amon from The Legend of Korra fits this trope. He leads the Equalists, an Anti-Magical Faction that wishes to rid the world of bending, claiming that benders oppress the non-benders of the world (and he's not entirely wrong). His status as a Dark Messiah stems from how he claims to have been chosen by the spirits to replace the Avatar as the world's savior, believing that the Avatar has failed to balance the world as promised. Of course, he's lying his ass off about being chosen by the spirits, and even the fact that he's a non-bender.
  • Castlevania: Nocturne: The Big Bad, Countess Erzsebet Báthory, is a self-proclaimed "vampire messiah" who intends to use a magically-induced solar eclipse to bring about an eternal night so that vampires can Take Over the World. She quickly declares herself a god and is worshiped as one by her minions, though to be fair, she has the power to back it up.
  • The Dragon Prince: Lord Viren views himself as humanity's savior. In season 2 he saves people from a famine, and in season 3 he is seen in white robes, parts a river of lava-like Moses did with the Red Sea, and is raised from the dead after a few days. However he is incredibly ruthless, power-hungry and manipulative.
  • Scar in The Lion King (1994) is this to the hyenas, offering them an opportunity to be on top for once instead of the lions.


Video Example(s):



Kane is the charismatic leader and self-proclaimed prophet of the terrorist organization-turned-global superpower Brotherhood of Nod. Claiming the alien substance Tiberium as a catalyst in the next step of human evolution, he and his zealous followers actively antagonize the Global Defense Initiative and their attempts to control and remove Tiberium by instigating the Tiberium Wars.

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Main / DarkMessiah

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