When a benevolent god or godlike figure chooses a lesser being to speak for them, their reasons for doing so will vary. Sometimes they're not omniscient enough to work alone. Sometimes, they're so alien they can't talk well to humans. Sometimes, whatever they have to say will be more palatable or plausible coming from a fellow human. Sometimes, the emissary themselves is special in some heretofore-unknown way. Or, maybe the god just wants their calls screened.
Whatever the reason, the emissary will rarely be grateful for the honor. Fits of existential frustration and insecurity are common- after all, what need does a god have for a human? Emissaries may also fear that they've gone insane, or be subject to assassination attempts by jealous dogmatists. Sometimes the god is temperamental, or drags them far from home. Frequently, such stories are focused on the emissary's cross-purpose yet friendly relationship with the divine.
Emissaries are usually Badass Normal, protected only by "coincidence" or magic on loan from their god. Incorruptible Pure Pureness is, of course, a job requirement. An emissary's Mission from God, if they have a specific one, is always diplomatic—anything else is a last resort. They may be nominated to inform the populace that God Is Displeased, or that trope may result from an emissary being ignored. Unwanted False Faith can also be a related trope, when the emissary's audience is unable to see the forest for the trees. Usually this trope happens to mortals, but can occasionally happen to an angel or other less mortal race.
Looks like this trope but isn't: Mouth of Sauron (the spokesman for an evil deity or organization who isn't empowered to act independently or speak their own mind), Pals with Jesus (when the god wants companionship, not an employee),
The Chosen One (a mortal chosen to do something other than intermediate), Oracle (someone who can see the future, and may or may not receive that power from a deity), Symbiotic Possession (the god wants a collaborator and won't do full-blown possession lasting more than an emergency few minutes), and Witch Doctor (a ritualist who compels higher powers to help them, instead of the other way around).
- In Haruhi Suzumiya, the fragile human Kyon nonetheless equalizes all the other factions by his presence, because he understands the local Reality Warper better than any of them. When Haruhi is apocalyptically angry, he persuades her to calm down. When the Brigade fears she's had someone murdered, he reassures them that Haruhi is better than that. Etc.
- In Medaka Box, Zenkichi translates to students (and readers) why the perfect, all-loving Medaka acts in the weird ways she does. She drafts him onto her staff for just this reason...and because she wants to date him.
- The titular Shaman King is bonded to the Great Spirit itself; most shamans are bonded with ghosts or lesser deities. What this means is that anyone who has won the quincentennial Shaman Fight- thus becoming King- can communicate with the Great Spirit and use a fraction of its power. Apparently, both Jesus and Buddha were past Shaman Kings.
- Clive Barkers Hellraiser starts a storyline called "The Harrowing" in issue #17, where the goddess Morte Mamme chooses 7 mortal champions to be her emissaries during rescue missions, freeing mortals from the Cenobite hell dimension of the Hellraiser franchise. Each mortal champion receives a supernatural power along with a magic weapon. Her mortal champions were chosen because they had certain strengths and immunities, and not because they were born for it like The Chosen One. "The Harrowing" storyline finishes during Spinoff comic book series Clive Barkers The Harrowers.
- Child of the Storm:
- This is the role of the "Voice"; an individual chosen by the local Genius Loci to communicate with the people that live on it. The one most prominently featured is the Voice of London, as her disappearance is given much attention in the story.
- Bobby Drake temporary took this role to allow Harry and his friends to communicate with another Genius Loci, in this case a mountain spirit.
- Another case are the hosts of the Phoenix Force, which in this story it is another name for Destruction. Hosts generally fulfil this function, though with the death and Fusion Dance of Lily Potter with the Phoenix, there's a more permanent option.
- Dogma features Alan Rickman as an angelic character named Metatron who is also known as the "voice of god". But Metatron is more than a mouth piece for God. Metatron is also an independent agent empowered to take charge and find God again, after God goes missing mysteriously.
- In Evan Almighty, a Noah's Ark retelling set in the modern day, God forces the titular Evan to build an ark- partly to save a town from the approaching flood, and partly to prove His existence. The comedic and dramatic crux of the movie is how hard it is for people to believe that a guy- just a normal guy who lives down the street, goes to soccer practice, and isn't even especially pure- can have any role in God's plan. (Incidentally, when Evan asks, "Why me?", the answer is "Because you asked for it", calling back to an earlier scene where he prayed for an opportunity to change the world.)
- During the film Oh, God!, God recruits a supermarket manager, Jerry Landers, on a mission to send a special message to the world.
- The Ten Commandments: A film about the Exodus chapter of the Old Testament, where Moses is sent by God to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Moses acts as an emissary from God.
- The Bravelands' Great Parent is this, although others worship her/him as a God in Human Form. Becoming the new Parent means becoming the host of an silent, autonomous, omniscient...being that drops randomly into a mortal animal's body, giving the mortal itself no say in the matter. Though them, it answers questions and resolves disputes. When the host dies, a new one is chosen.
- The Dresden Files:
- The Seelie (Summer) and Unseelie (Winter) Courts have two types of mortal emissaries for different duties.
- When a course of action requires an external person, the Courts will each select one mortal to act on their behalf, this person being named "Emissary". Harry Dresden has the fortune of ending up as the Emissary of Queen Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, Queen of Winter, and the original Evil Queen, twice over the course of the series to pay off a debt he owes another fae but was bought by Mab. (Examples: Summer Knight, Small Favor)
- When the course of action involves a direct conflict with the opposing court, the Queens of Summer and Winter will send their Knights, mortals who are blessed with a tithe of that Court's Queen's original power. Typically the Winter Knight's duties involve killing someone, and the Summer Knight is sent to protect the target. It should be noted that while a Knight might be suitable to one Queen, if a Queen of higher rank disagrees, she can remove the power from the Knight, even if it means killing the person, to select a person of her own liking to be the Knight.
- The Knights of the Cross are three paladins who each carry a Sword with one of the Nails from Jesus' crucifixion. (Examples: Grave Peril, Death Masks, Small Favor, Changes, Skin Game) They have two ways to be emissaries for the Almighty:
- The first is their more common one. The Knight's primary duty is to save the mortal hosts of the Fallen Angels who inhabit one of thirty silver Denarii. They will offer peace to the mortal who is entrapped by the Fallen in hope that the mortal will wrest control and give up the coin in atonement. They are not to be the executioners and killers of these people unless the Fallen or host refuse to yield and the Knight must defend himself or herself, or the lives of others.
- The second level is when an Angel of the Lord uses a properly aligned Knight as a herald to announce God's Will and Decree. This has happened only twice thus far, in Changes. Once is when a new Knight faced the ancient evil leadership of the Red Court of Vampires and denounced their position as false gods and killers of innocents. The other is when the Archangel Uriel, in order to save a retired Knight from death after choosing to face the mortal leader of the Denarians, loans the Knight his Grace of God, healing the injured man, and allowing the man to be in the right spot to be a Voice of God to a group of thieves the Knight would need to work with, offering them a chance to redeem themselves as well.
- The Seelie (Summer) and Unseelie (Winter) Courts have two types of mortal emissaries for different duties.
- In the Heralds of Valdemar series, the firecat species basically exist to be living reminders of Vkandis' power. In Karse's glory days, firecats often accompanied and advised its leaders. When they stopped showing up at all, it was a sign that Vkandis was getting very, very upset with the priests' growing corruption...
- The Small Gods character Brutha speaks for the Great God Om, although Om doesn't really have much of a choice because Brutha is the last True Believer in an otherwise spiritually dead religion. Brutha represents Om's interests independently which makes him an emissary.
- The Raven Tower: The Raven's Lease is appointed by the Raven to lead the nation of Vastai on his behalf, as evidenced by the fact that the Lease gets Purpose-Driven Immortality until they're ultimately called on to sacrifice themself to the Raven.
- The Silerian Trilogy: Mirabar is one of the Silerian goddess Dar, prophesying the Firebringer, then the next Yarhdan, who her own daughter will aid.
- Blood in the Mist is a sci-fi Lovecraft Lite story where both the protagonist and antagonist are "Heralds" of extradimensional beings with immense power, though Abraxus advises Rio not to worship him, as opposed to Loris and his blood-drenched cult.
- Joan of Arcadia: The series protagonist Joan receives everyday missions from God with a capital G. She learns much discovering unexpected lessons from each mission.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a major storyline is how and why protagonist Captain Benjamin Sisko became the "Emissary of the Prophets" for the Bajoran religion. The Bajorans believe Sisko has a special connection to their gods and speaks their will.
- The Bible: Regardless of linguistic drift since that era, some of the prophets were not prophets in the sense that they could see the future. They were closer to this trope — enacting God's will, relaying the people's complaints to Him, warning foreigners and traitors not to mistreat His chosen people, etc. Many parts of scripture are not one continuous monologue from God, but a record of conversations with His chosen representatives.
"And you shall eat the food as you would a barley cake, after you bake it over dried human excrement in the sight of the people."
Then the Lord said, "This is how the Israelites will eat their defiled bread among the nations to which I will banish them."
"Ah, Lord God," I said, "I have never defiled myself. From my youth until now I have not eaten anything found dead or mauled by wild beasts. No unclean meat has ever entered my mouth."
"Look," He replied, "I will let you use cow dung instead of human excrement, and you may bake your bread over that."— Ezekiel 4:12-15 note
- Islam names Mohammed as the last and greatest prophet, following all those listed in the Bible (including Jesus).
- Mormonism believes their founder Joseph Smith was guided to a lost book of the Bible by angels. And the president of the Church of Latter-Day Saints is considered a living prophet subject to new revelations from God.
- In Egyptian Mythology, pharaohs were considered an embodiment of the god Horus while alive, and of Osiris once dead. This was one of the earliest variants of the Divine Right of Kings concept; aside from actually ruling, the pharaoh also officiated at religious ceremonies, decided temple locations, and was referred to as "High Priest of every temple". The trope contributed to their downfall- because of it, the populace were less forgiving of a Pharaoh when s/he did make a mistake, and incestuous marriages between members of the "pure" royal bloodline were enforced.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, a god can appoint a truly exemplary follower as a Proxy, who speaks and acts on the god's behalf. The Proxy is invested with the god's divine power and actually becomes a demigod for the duration of the appointment.
- In Exalted, Zenith Castes (the priests among Solar Exalted) can easily be played as this trope for the Unconquered Sun. One particularly awful event in the backstory occurred because a Zenith exploited this image selfishly, lying that the Unconquered Sun supported a particular political move.
- In Ōkami, the sun mother Amaterasu isn't much of a talker, so every generation the fairy village appoints a Celestial Envoy to follow along with her and illustrate her deeds. Since Gods Need Prayer Badly, the current Envoy's (Issun) work is vital to her triumph over the God of Evil.
- In Pokémon Sun and Moon, every Tapu (patrons and protectors of each of the Alolan islands) appoints a human kahuna to mediate between civilization and nature. These kahunas are given Z-Rings, which allow them to perform a ceremonial dance that unleashes their Pokémon's full power.
- In Exterminatus Now subverts the trope; a parody of Jack Chick discovers to his horror that his god completely disagrees with a lot of his opinions, including those Chick deluded himself into believing were divine revelation. Tyrus' actual prophets have all been been burned at the stake for heresy.
- In Housepets!, one of the demigods playing Universes & Unrealities with the universe tried to set up a rabbit ("Zach") as a prophet, his adherents being other woodland creatures. Zach didn't cooperate.
- The Order of the Stick has the Godsmoot, where each god sends a high-ranking priest to discuss major issues on their behalf. Subverted, when it's revealed that the priests are Willing Channelers for their gods and aren't personally involved in the discussion.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Avatar is born into one of the four nations to bring balance to the elements and mediate between the human and spirit worlds. What drives the conflict of the sequel series is the new Avatar's inability to commune with the spirit world as well as her predecessor could.
- In The Lion Guard, only a mjuzi can contact ancestral spirits not their own, but the ability doesn't necessarily come intuitively. Regardless of being eager to learn and having her own Magic Staff, young Makini needs to calm down before she can receive guidance from the lion spirits note who marked her at birth.
"The hardest part of listening is finding the quiet to hear."