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Disabled Deity

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Knowledge has a price, even for gods.
"Hephaestus spoke, and the huge craftsman rose from the anvil block limping, but his shrunken legs moved nimbly beneath him ... and he put on a tunic, took up his thick staff, and went out the door, limping; and supporting their master were attendants made of gold, which seemed like living maidens."
The Iliad, Book XVIII (translation by Caroline Alexander)

A Disabled Deity is a god or similar being who, despite the power and physical resilience that comes with divine status, is disabled in some way. Because of the obvious complications in even figuring out what would count as a disability to an entity like a Sentient Cosmic Force, this trope is generally applied to Physical Gods. This trope is Older Than Feudalism, dating back at least as far as Hephaestus in Classical Mythology. It's not uncommon for contemporary uses of this trope to be inspired by mythological figures.

Somehow, using their godly powers to cure themselves never comes up as a viable option. Depending on how divine powers work in this setting, there may be a certain amount of Fridge Logic involved regarding why a being who can change shape or alter reality can't grow back a lost body part. This may be justified out-of-universe if the disability has symbolic significance or is part of the deity's "theme" (such as visual impairment for a god of knowledge, or a Red Right Hand for a God of Evil).

This is for gods with physical disabilities, injuries, and such; for deities who are mentally ill or just not all there, see Mad God and Almighty Idiot. For gods that are not just disabled but completely broken up, see Pieces of God.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In The World God Only Knows, Vulcan can't walk and has difficulty with her vision and hearing. However, she can imbue herself into an inanimate object, moving it around and using it to see and hear.
  • The misfortune gods in Good Luck Girl! often walk around with bandaged limbs due to the various accidents that result from their divine powers.
  • In Record of Ragnarok the gods that win their fights in the tournament often do so with some sort of lost limb or organ. While Zeus, Thor and Beelzebub got off mostly scot-free, Shiva lost three of his four arms against Raiden and Buddha lost an eye in his fight with Hajun. While the divine medics seem to be able to perform miracles when it comes to healing fighters, both gods seem to still be missing their limbs.

    Fan Works 
  • In Codex Equus, there are a few deities (and demi-deities) who have some kind of disability.
    • Prince Healing Song is a blind Alicorn who lost his sight as a baby; he got infected with retinoblastoma, a rare ocular cancer, and doctors had to surgically remove his eyes to prevent spreading. When he Ascended to godhood on his deathbed, he was still blind, but he managed to get around this thanks to his mentor, Blue Suede Heartstrings. Despite being blind all his life, he refused to let it define or embitter him, and he's quite willing to joke about himself. He does get annoyed and snarky when people insult/patronize him, however. A large reason why he ended up befriending Gagal of the Kaluan Pantheon is due to Gagal admiring him for accepting his blindness, just like how he accepted his albinism.
    • Muet, the Great Skunk goddess of Pantomime, Performance Art, and Silence, was born with mutism, which physically renders her unable to speak. Even after Ascending to true godhood, her disability remained. She's somewhat sensitive over how people react to her mutism, especially in a negative way, but is generally accepting of it and hasn't let it embitter her.
    • Gagal was born with albinism; while he's not blind like Healing Song, he suffers from bad eyesight and he's extremely photosensitive, forcing him to wear sunglasses and carry umbrellas with him all the time. However, like Healing Song, he never let his disability embitter him and sees it as a fault that he's willing to work with. He was bullied for being albino as a foal, but he didn't let it affect him, and his albinism didn't really become a social issue anymore once he reached adulthood.
    • Prince Crimson Star is also blind. He was previously an Insufferable Genius, but then he got horribly injured in a carriage accident caused by a worker's slip-up after he pushed a classmate out of the way of a runaway carriage, costing him his eyes. His blindness was treatable then, but it later became permanently untreatable thanks to a combination of a failed Deal with the Devil to restore his sight, his Jerkass Realization and suicidal depression that followed, and the vicious bullying he received from a few of his brothers. However, Golden Scepter refused to give up on him and helped him adapt to his blindness as best as he could by teaching him how to use magic to get around and hiring certain people to make reading materials that he's able to read without sight. He has since accepted his blindness, and sees it as both a sign that he was 'punished' for his foolishness and a reminder of what'll happen should he become arrogant again.
    • Prince Varázsló is also blind, though it was self-inflicted - when he was younger, he and his twin brother Cselszövő were thrown into the Well of Eternity, which gave them both incredible knowledge and power, but transformed them into eldritch gods and drove them insane. He in particular was so tormented by the psychic visions he would constantly receive that he desperately tore out all of his eight eyes just to make the visions stop... except it didn't work because being blind now meant the potency of his visions increased. He has since learned to live with it, but it's common for people in his hell-fief to hear him screaming/muttering random prophecies.
  • In We Make Our Own Light, Dark Sun Gwyndolin was reliant on a nest of snakes carrying him since he was barely able to walk under his own power. After losing them, he has to undergo physical therapy and now can move independently, but his stamina is still shot to Hell and his lungs are quite vulnerable to cold.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor, a Physical God of Thunder, loses an eye. He thus becomes similar to his father Odin the Allfather, who lost his eye before the events of Thor. Partway through Avengers: Infinity War, Rocket gives him a cybernetic eye to replace it (presumably so Chris Hemsworth didn't need to wear an eyepatch for the entirety of shooting).
  • The title characters in Time Bandits are renegade angels and not full-fledged gods, but they count because Terry Gilliam cast actors with dwarfism to play them all.
  • In Dogma, God apparently took physical form to play skeeball, was seriously injured, and spends most of the movie as an old man on life support.

  • Michael Moorcock's Corum stories. In the first trilogy, Corum loses his left hand and right eye and is given the Hand of Kwll and the Eye of Rhynn to replace them. These items were originally part of the ultra-powerful beings Kwll and Rhynn, who were disabled by their loss.
  • The Crippled God from the Malazan Book of the Fallen is a severe case of Wound That Will Not Heal from the fall that brought him into the realm he is now chained in. He cannot physically move and spends his time in a tent plotting The End of the World as We Know It and likes to collect worshippers and pawns which are, like him, imperfect or disabled in some way. Millennia of pain haven't done his state of mind much good either.
  • Blind Io, chief of the Discworld's gods, is an aversion. While he has no eyes in his head and wears a blindfold, he has a bunch of eyes floating around him that let him see (which causes problems when a raven comes around).
  • Belgariad: Torak's disability doubles as a Red Right Hand. The Orb of Aldur burned the left side of his body leaving especially his face and hand horribly scarred. Gods are also incapable of healing because they are (the Orb notwithstanding) incapable of being harmed; by dint of this, Torak feels the fresh pain of his injury, the severity of which has rendered him catatonic for millennia at a time.
  • In The Elenium, Azash was castrated by the Younger Gods, which weakened him enough that he could be trapped inside an idol.
  • In the Spirit Animals series, four of the godlike Great Beasts were slain while protecting humanity from the Devourer. As immortals, they cannot truly die, and the series kicks off with the four reincarnating as the spirit animals of four children. However, death and rebirth has stripped them of much of their power, and there's no telling how long it will take to return.
  • The Grim Reaper in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel has a Hook Hand.
  • Morgoth from The Silmarillion was burned by the Silmarils and lost the power to shapeshift as a result. The burns will also hurt him for eternity.
    • Sauron is missing a finger by The Lord of the Rings, it having been cut off (along with the titular Ring) at the end of the Second Age; Gollum specifically mentions his torturer having four fingers. His inability to heal may be related to the fact that he can't take any beautiful form anymore.
  • How you define "deity" in the Trek Verse is tricky, but there is an entity in the Q Continuum trilogy named 0 (as in the number) who is a Q-level Reality Warper. He is also very much a bad guy. The Q Continuum punished him by restricting his travel speed to light speed and putting up a barrier around the entire galaxy just to keep him out (yes, this is the one Kirk kept running into in The Original Series. Oh, and the barrier being in the center instead of the edge of the galaxy in Star Trek V isn't an error; that's a second barrier to hold one of 0's underlings.) His restricted movement is represented by his having a bum leg in his human form/disguise.
  • In Ever World, Hephaestus is described as having an upper body the size of a gorilla with legs that look like they belong to a child. David helps him design a wheelchair to get him on their side in the fight against the Hetwan.
  • In The Crocodile God, Haik, the title's Tagalog crocodile-god, marries the mortal tribeswoman Mirasol in the newly-colonized Philippines. When she's pregnant and he declares that their daughter will be a god to the Spaniard she works for, the Spaniard shoots her. Haik tries to help, but can only heal Mirasol, and their tiny whale-calf daughter ends up stillborn. In modern-day California, Mirasol dreams of going to the Otherworld and finds out the other Tagalog gods managed to bring the whale-goddess back to life as an adult — but her legs are heavily scarred and she needs a walking stick in the mortal world. She's not too bothered, since she can still SWIM.
  • Widdershins Adventures: After all but one member of his cult is slaughtered, Olgun is dependent on Widdershins for survival and is only capable of performing minor miracles, like swaying probability in her favor.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Egyptian Mythology:
    • After the god Set killed the god Osiris, he ripped his body into 14 pieces and scattered them across the world. The goddess Isis gathered up all of the body parts except his phallus (which had been eaten by a catfish) and bandaged them together like a mummy. The other Egyptian deities then resurrected him... well, almost all of him. However, Isis made him a prosthetic penis, and since she's a goddess of magic, it apparently worked well enough to conceive their son Horus.
    • The battles between Horus and Set resulted in the former having a wounded eye (the Moon) and the latter losing his testicles.
    • Bes, the dwarf god, protector of women giving birth.
    • Ptah, the creator god of Memphis, was also often depicted with dwarfism.
  • Norse Mythology:
    • The blind god Hodur in Norse Mythology is best known for his Accidental Murder (abetted by Loki) of his brother Baldr.
    • The Allfather Odin was missing one eye. He sacrificed it at Mimir's Well in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages.
    • The god Tyr was depicted as missing one hand. When the gods wanted to bind the Fenris Wolf with the magical ribbon Gleipnir, Fenris refused to let Gleipnir be put upon him unless one of the gods put his hand in Fenris' mouth. Tyr volunteered to do so. When Fenris found he couldn't escape Gleipnir, he bit Tyr's hand off.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Hephaestus/Vulcan, the Genius Cripple smith-god. One piece of ancient art depicts him in a classical-era flying Super Wheelchair.
    • Plutus, the god of wealth, is blind, supposedly blinded by Zeus so he would be fair to rich and poor alike.
    • The Graeae (who show up in the myth of Perseus) are three old women with only one eye and one tooth between the three of them that they have to share.
  • Japanese Mythology:
    • According to one story, Ebisu (best known as one of the Seven Lucky Gods), was born without bones. He outgrew that, but even as an adult was traditionally considered to be hard of hearing.
  • Native American Mythology:
    • Aztec Mythology:
      • Tezcatlipoca, the god of night and magic, lost a foot while creating the earth from a giant crocodile monster. He replaced it with an obsidian mirror.
      • Xolotl, the god of bad luck, was depicted with deformed limbs, a hunched back, and eyes that tended to be pulled out of their sockets.
      • Nanahuatzin was a Disabled Deity... until he threw himself on a sacrificial fire and became the sun.
    • The Inuit sea goddess Sedna is missing her fingers (along with maybe her hands or even her whole arms, Depending on the Writer).
  • Celtic Mythology: The first king of the Tuatha de Danann, Nuada Airgetlam (literally “Nuada Silver Hand”) lost an arm and lived with a fully functional silver replacement.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dark Eye: The Nameless God is a villainous and self-inflicted example. Chained into a breach in the firmament by the other gods as punishment for attempting to conquer all creation, he rages and tears off bits of his own body to free himself. His mortal followers seek to emulate him and sacrifice body parts one by one as they ascend through the ranks of his cult. This doesn't make them any less dangerous, which can make veteran players very nervous when they encounter a one-eyed NPC.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The evil god Vecna of the Greyhawk setting is missing his left hand and eye, both of which have a tendency to resurface in the setting as Artifacts Of Doom. Depending on the edition, he lost the parts to a treacherous lieutenant before his apotheosis.
    • The evil 4th Edition god Torog is covered in Wounds That Will Not Heal, has his legs visibly twisted and broken, and has his spine twisted backwards in an L-shape. He's called "The King That Crawls" and is the patron of jailers and torturers.
    • Forgotten Realms:
      • Tyr, the god of justice, was blinded by Ao the Overgod for questioning one of his decisions, and, much like his Norse Mythology counterpart, had his hand bitten off during an attempt to subdue Kezef the Chaos Hound.
      • The Orc deity Gruumsh is said to have lost an eye while battling the Elven deity Corellon Larethian, although the church of Gruumsh insist this is a heresy spread by the elves and Gruumsh has always had one eye.
      • Ilmater is a borderline example. His body is covered in Wounds That Will Not Heal, symbolic of his role as the god of martyrdom.
  • Exalted: Autochthon has what, among primordial proto-gods with bodies the size of worlds, is roughly analogous to cancer; he was able to self-medicate fairly efficiently, but once he slipped into dormancy he began to slowly die from it. Appropriate, since he's the setting's equivalent of Hephaestus, if Hephaestus were a giant steampunk Eldritch Abomination with cyber-organic cancer.
  • Hackmaster supplement Gawds & Demi-Gawds: In the world of Aldrazar (the Hackmaster campaign setting) the greater gawd Luvia is blind. This gives him a -4 to hit in combat.
  • Scion: If a god is disabled in myth, they'll also be so in the game. Scion: Ragnarok introduces the concept of using disabilities as Birthrights (because they've become part of their owner's Legend), allowing the Scion/God to channel a related Purview without any relics... but if the disabled deity in question tries to get around the disability (Tyr getting a prosthetic hand is the example used), it cuts off the mythic connection that allows this to work. Both Odin and Tyr use this option, Odin with his missing eye allowing him to channel Prophecy and Tyr with his missing hand allowing him to channel Justice.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
  • Warhammer Fantasy has two in the Elf pantheon:

  • The main plot of BIONICLE is that Mata Nui the giant robot god is off-line and the heroes have to wake him up. As the story progresses, they find out that not only is he unconscious, Mata Nui is dying and his internals got wrecked when he crashed down from space. Among other mishaps like the plug over his heart having shot out of his body (becoming the floating island Voya Nui), the characters learn that they are also parts of Mata Nui's body (explaining the title, "Biological Chronicle") and have to return to him. At certain points, some of them, like Turaga Nuju, wonder if a god who is this disabled and voulnerable is worth all their sacrifices.

    Video Games 

  • The Order of the Stick: Like his Norse Mythology counterpart, Hoder, the Northern God of Winter, is blind. His priests wear blindfolds while on duty, which both cause them some trouble on uneven ground and leave them ignorant of the fact that one of their visitors is a vampire.

    Web Originals 
  • The SCP Foundation's Church of the Broken God believes in two deities; Yaldabaoth, a god of organic life, and Mekhane, a god of civilization, technology, and the mind. Yaldabaoth got pissed when Mekhane gave some of his creations minds and free will, and tried to kill them all. Mekhane then made a Heroic Sacrifice and broke themself to pieces to imprison Yaldabaoth. The Church of the Broken God wishes to piece Mekhane back together, but unfortunately for them, their last attempt didn't go too well. They're most well known for their belief that various mechanical SCP items are pieces of Mekhane.
    • The Church of the Broken God sees most of the strange technology the Foundation locks up as fragments of Him, from a retrovirus that turns people into Clock Punk cyborgs to a machine that converts any metal thrown into it into more of itself, to the Ridiculously Human Robots they have.
  • One of the First Born of the Forest Bed is Weeping Willow, who went blind after crying her eyes out over the first Dancing Tree (she thought the seed was dead, but it just needed more water to grow).
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device:
    • The "Decius Breaks the News" special has him dunk on every other god of the setting; he describes Khorne as "a paraplegic sociopath".
    • From the perspective of the present-day Imperium, the Emperor himself would qualify, being a God-Emperor dependent on life support and needing a speech synthesizer not unlike Stephen Hawking's to communicate his will to his followers.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles has Odin appear in one episode. Subverted, however, in that he gets his eye back at the end. The Eye of Odin was a recurring Artifact of Doom in the series; it turns from a dangerous medallion into an actual eye once Odin puts it back where it belongs.