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Disabled Deity

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"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 Binbō-gami ga! often walk around with bandaged limbs due to the various accidents that result from their divine powers.

    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.
  • 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 go golfing, 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 paws 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's 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, who 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.
      • Arguably Justified considering he had been Thrown off of Mt. Olympus as a newborn.
    • 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).

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • Warhammer: The Eldar/Elf pantheon contains Morai-Heg, who had her hand cut off to gain knowledge of the future.
  • Warhammer 40,000: While in his prime, the God-Emperor of Mankind was in excellent physical condition, in the universe's "present" he's been dependent on life support for millennia.
  • 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 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" for good reason 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.
  • In 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.
  • In Scion, if a god is disabled in myth, they'll also be so in the game.
  • Autochthon in Exalted. Appropriate, since he's the setting's equivalent of Hephaestus, if Hephaestus were a giant steampunk Eldritch Abomination with cyber-organic cancer.

    Video Games 
  • The Thunder Dragon Lanayru in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is dead in the present and suffering from a terrible disease in the past. If you do some time warping to save him he'll be back to full health in the present.
  • The god Tyr in Neverwinter Nights is referred to often as "The Maimed God" because he's missing a hand.
  • The halfing thief god Bolo in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura is said to only have one arm; the other was cut off as punishment for him stealing the shadow of Progo the god of storms.
  • In Eternal Darkness, Mantarok—the Eldritch Abomination that kept the three others in balance—eventually sustains a major disability: Death. However, even as a "dead god", it wields considerable power. The True Ending, in fact, reveals that everything that transpires was all part of its plan to eliminate the other three, leaving Mantarok uncontested.
  • In Dungeon Crawl Ashenzari, the god of knowledge and divination, deliberately had itself nailed to the sky. Being bound and crippled, Ashenzari gains the ability to see and know everything. As a result, it grants divine favor and knowledge for handicapping yourself by wearing cursed items and exploring the world.
  • The Neptunia series subjects its protagonists to this often. Causes range from simple amnesia, having their worshipers turned to the villains' side, being Trapped in Another World where they don't qualify as deities, being Trapped in Another World with no one left to worship them, or just having their powers stolen by the villain.
  • The Colonel in Cultist Simulator is Covered in Scars, including his eyes being scarred shut. In this case it's self-inflicted; the scars protect him from the gaze of a rival hour, the Seven-Coils.
  • ZUN initially conceived of Okina Matara from the Touhou Project game Hidden Star in Four Seasons as being in a wheelchair, representing her being a god of the disabled, but changed his mind because he didn't want to come off as preachy when he didn't know what it was like to be disabled himself. He returned to his original idea in the Visionary Fairies in Shrine manga, which features Okina in a wheelchair. (Okina's earlier portrayals, which show her standing and walking, can be explained as her having some degree of independent mobility; she certainly seems to prefer sitting or kneeling to standing.)

  • 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 causes them some trouble on uneven ground and leaves them ignorant of the fact that one of their visitors is a vampire.

    Web Originals 

    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.)


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